This week marked the official halfway point of the 2017 session, also known as “Crossover.” For the remainder of this session, the House will consider legislation passed in the Senate and accept or reject Senate amendments to House bills. Additionally, the House formally passed our version of the budget bill this week. It will now go into “conference” where I will meet my Senate counterparts to finalize a budget that will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
A few key elements of the House budget bill:
- Includes a 3% pay raise for the Virginia State Police, Sheriffs and higher education classified personnel.
- Raises the starting salary for the Virginia State Police.
- Allocates funds to help Sheriff’s Deputies deal with salary compression issues.
- Increases the amount of lottery funds directly returned to localities for education from 29% to 40% sending $219 million back to localities, with no strings attached. School divisions will be able to use these additional funds for teacher pay raises that do not require a local match.
- Restores a portion of the $78 million cut from higher education in the Governor’s budget.
- Does not include any tax or fee increases for hard working Virginians.
As a House budget Conferee, I am committed to fight for investments in education and transportation while ensuring we pass a structurally balanced budget.
Lastly, I am happy to report that two of my bills have already passed through the Senate Transportation Committee. My House Bill 1763, which would create a series of license plates designed by high school students to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The committee also approved my House Bill 1705, a measure that will provide more options to satisfy the 90-minute parent/teen driver program in Northern Virginia. You can find out more about this bill here in a story that aired this week on WTOP: http://wtop.com/virginia/2017/02/northern-va-teen-drivers-parents-get-scare-required-class/.
Both HB 1763 & HB 1705 will now head to the full Senate floor. As these bills continue along their journey to the Governor’s desk, I will be sure to keep you updated.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input on any of my legislation or any bills that will come before the General Assembly for consideration. I can be reached anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-698-1032. You can also follow my work on Facebook, Twitter (@TagGreason), and www.taggreason.com.