The 2017 General Assembly Session has come to an end, as the House of Delegates has adjourned Sine Die. Both the House and Senate will return to Richmond in early April to take up recommendations and vetoes issued by the Governor. Reflecting on the last forty-five days in Richmond, I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have completed on impactful legislation and our structurally sound, conservative budget.
Serving as a House Budget Conferee is a privilege that allows me to have an integral role in shaping the budget the General Assembly sends to the Governor at the end of each session. This year, the House made it a priority to protect K-12 education from cuts, reward state employees with a raise and restore funds to higher education that were cut in the Governor’s proposal. I personally fought to ensure that the final budget includes a 2% pay raise for teachers. This raise does not require a local match and will become effective in February of 2018 once the Governor signs the budget. This budget also expands on a program featured in our 2016-2018 biennial budget whereby the Commonwealth returns proceeds from the lottery fund directly to localities. This year’s increase will result in an additional $191 million sent directly to school divisions with almost no strings attached. All of these investments were made without raising any fees or taxes on hardworking Virginians and you can find more information regarding the final budget here: (web link)
Several of my bills have already been signed into law by the Governor or will soon find their way to his desk. This legislation includes:
HB 1662 – Public Institutions of Higher Education; Course Credit; Dual Enrollment Courses – This legislation is designed to lower higher education costs, increase transparency and give students and their parents more information about what coursework will best help reduce the credit hours needed to earn a degree from one of Virginia’s public universities. Much like we did in 2015 with House Bill 1396, this legislation requires colleges to collaborate with the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia in coming up with a standard policy of acceptance for dual enrollment courses and mandates that the acceptance policy be published online.
House Bill 1663 – Northern Virginia Community College; Computer Science Training and Professional Development for Teachers – The bill instructs Northern Virginia Community College, in consultation with the Department of Education, to contract with a Virginia based partner organization to develop, market, and implement high-quality and effective computer science training. This will include professional development activities for public school teachers throughout the Commonwealth for the purpose of improving the computer science literacy of all public school students in the Commonwealth. This expands upon the work we did last year with my House Bill 831, which incorporated computer science and coding into the current SOL curriculum.
For now, I am excited to be able to spend the next few days at home with Mary Beth and our three children. I look forward to seeing many of you around our community in the weeks ahead and hope you will contact me directly if I can ever be of assistance to you or your family. It is an honor to represent you in the Virginia General Assembly
Delegate, 32nd District