It has been a long but productive winter here in Richmond. My colleagues and I have successfully completed our work on this session’s legislation and the 2016 – 2018 biennial budget for the Commonwealth. Our budget is a responsible, conservative, and structurally balanced roadmap for the next two years that makes targeted investments in areas such as economic development, K-12 education, higher education, and the Commonwealth’s rainy day fund.
The General Assembly’s budget has been approved and sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Our budget does not include any additional taxes or fees. Furthermore, it will reduce spending on bond packages and fully fund the state’s portion of the Virginia Retirement System six years ahead of schedule, an action that will save us over $44 million per year. I was honored to once again serve as a Conferee on the budget with the responsibility of reconciling the differences between the House and Senate proposals. Through my role, I was able to help ensure an increase of $892.3 million in direct aid for public education over the current biennium, while adding flexibility for our localities in terms of allocating education funds. We have also included pay raises for teachers, support staff, and all state employees that will go into effect in 2016. This budget also makes a major investment in higher education by allocating $300 million to support our goals of increased access, affordability, and quality at Virginia’s colleges and universities.
In addition to my work on the budget conference, I have continued to serve our community and carry legislation that will help improve K-12 education in the Commonwealth. My House Bill 831, which directs the Board of Education to begin incorporating computer science, computational thinking, and coding into existing SOL curriculum, will help better prepare our students for college and the workforce by giving them skills they will need in the 21st century. I also carried House Bill 46 and House Bill 47. House Bill 46 sets up a committee, similar to the SOL Innovation Committee, which will look at innovating our early education system by addressing issues like workforce development, teacher accreditation, and methods of instruction. My House Bill 47 coincides with budget language that will create a mixed-delivery preschool pilot program designed to incorporate public, private, and faith-based providers in an effort to gather information on what works best for our children. I am proud of the work we have completed this year on education in the budget and through the legislative process. I look forward to getting your feedback in the days ahead.
I am excited to return home to my family and look forward to seeing many of you around the 32nd District this spring. If I can ever be of any assistance to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach my district office by calling (703) 203-3203 or emailing me at DelTGreason@house.virginia.gov.
Delegate, 32nd District