News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Each week, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce selects a Legislator of the Week and invites him/her to highlight key pieces of legislation that is important to the Hampton Roads business community. Below is Delegate Chris Jones’ statement on the budget.
“The House 2012-2014 biennial budget was passed on Thursday, February 23rd providing a structurally balanced budget making strategic investments in the core areas of government that House Republicans have emphasized this Session - helping create private sector jobs, improving education opportunities, protecting our families, and ensuring we have a more efficient and effective state government. Most important, we have made targeted investments without raising taxes on Virginia families and businesses.
During this time of continued economic uncertainty, our top priority remains helping Virginia businesses create new jobs and opportunities. To that end, we extended several tax credits for Virginia businesses including the major facilities job tax credits that are tied to job growth and capital investment to encourage business investment in Virginia. We have also extended the capital gains tax credit for investments in startup businesses to increase capital for small business job creators. To help Virginia farmers and expand Virginia’s largest industry, we have established an Agriculture and Forestry Development Fund with $2 million in funding to grow our world market. Recognizing that government can sometimes best help by staying out of the way, we removed several proposed fee increases that hinder job creation.
To improve educational opportunities, we added $575 million for K-12 public education and nearly $200 million for Virginia’s colleges and universities. The increase for public schools will fund important programs such as K-3 class size reductions and early reading intervention. Our $200 million investment in higher education follows on the “Top Jobs” higher education reform legislation passed with unanimous support in the 2011 General Assembly. Part of this funding will open an additional 1,700 slots for in-state students at William and Mary, University of Virginia, James Madison University, and Virginia Tech. We have also included funding to help our colleges expand degrees in the high demand fields- Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Health Care to support 21st century job growth.
In the area of protecting our families, we have added $14.8 million over the biennium for our sheriff departments. For those brave men and women who have served our country, we have included additional funding in the Department of Veterans Services to increase the number of veterans claims agents to help speed up the processing of veterans claims. Protecting our families includes ensuring our most vulnerable citizens have the care they need. Our budget restores many proposed cuts to the health safety net, including proposed cuts to free health clinics. We also have provided funding for 970 new Intellectual Disability waivers and 100 new Developmental Disability waivers. The waivers provide the funds to move family members with disabilities from distant training centers to health care support near home.
To make our state government more efficient and effective, we have found savings in a number of areas including $2.8 million in our legislative budget. In total, we were able to reduce agency budgets and return over $32 million to the General Fund over three years. We have also tackled one of the biggest issues impacting future budgets – the Virginia Retirement System’s unfunded liability. We have designated $2.2 billion towards paying down this unfunded liability. This investment, coupled with several proposed reforms to the retirement system, represents an important step towards safeguarding the VRS for our current and future employees. Mindful the growth of the national economy is below expectations, we have taken the prudent step of adding $300 million to increase our Rainy Day Fund to $600 million.
While significant progress has been made in the budget thus far, there is still much work to be done. The House budget has been communicated to the Senate and awaits their action.
Serving as a budget conferee, I along with the other House conferees can only wait to see what actions will be taken by the Senate. The Senate failed to obtain the constitutionally required votes to report out its version of the budget on the 23rd.
Links of Interest
February 20, 2012
As a reminder, while serving you in Richmond, my office can be reached at (804) 698-1076 or via the Internet at Delcjones@house.virginia.gov. If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to visit me in Room 523.
Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate."
Delegate Chris Jones
“Amazon” Sales Tax Collection Bill (SB597 Wagner)
Substitute language – Internet companies will be required to collect Virginia’s sales and use tax provided that the company owns or controls distribution centers, warehouses, fulfillment centers or offices in the Commonwealth that facilitate the delivery of tangible personal property sold by a dealer to its customers. The bill will take effect on the earlier of September 13, 2012 ,or the effective date of federal legislation authorizing the states to require a seller to collect taxes on sales of goods to in-state purchasers regardless of the seller’s location.
HB1063(Tata) and HB591(Merricks) killed in Senate Education and Health Committee
Both HB1063 and HB 591 would have allowed schools to open before Labor Day. In 2011 Virginia tourism generated $18.2 billion worth of economic activity, supported 204,000 jobs and $1.29 billion in state and local taxes. Repealing Virginia’s school start date law would have jeopardized more than $369 million worth of economic activity and $104 million in wages and benefits statewide.
The Chambers opposed HB1063 (Tata) and HB591 (Merricks) and continue to urge solutions for increasing instructional time within the existing school calendar. School divisions averaged 22 to 28 non-instructional days in 2012.
The Senate failed to pass HB29 or HB30 to date. HB29 amends the budget for the remaining months of FY12 and HB30 addresses the next biennium.
The options moving forward are as follows:
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.
Business Professional Occupational License Measure Carried Over
HB10 (Cole) that would restrict revenue collections from the BPOL tax was carried over by the Senate Finance Committee.
Senate Bill 549 (Wagner) Machinery and Tools Tax Reform
This bill creates the Machinery and Tools Investment Grant Program as a state non-reverting fund. Manufacturers will be granted the equivalent of the cost of the local machinery and tools tax paid to their local governments for new investments purchased after 1/1/13 for the first two years of service. The Virginia Manufacturers Association has indicated that this bill could produce $1 billion in new capital investments. $3 million per year has been requested for the program.
Support for this policy was bolstered by STIHL’s recent announcements in Virginia Beach. The City of Virginia Beach eliminated its machinery and tools tax to attract advanced manufacturing investments. STIHL has committed to invest $10.1 million in its corporate headquarters ($4.6 million in machinery and tools) adding 53,256 square feet of industrial real estate and added 52 full time jobs. In February, STIHL purchased an 850,000 square foot vacant building for $18 million.
Click here for a comprehensive list of bills your Chamber is tracking.