Monday, February 28, 2011

Gov. McDonnell on the success of his agenda in the 2011 GA

Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
E-mail: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov

Governor McDonnell’s 2011 Agenda Receives Broad Support
Agenda Highlighted by Passage of Major Transportation Investment and Higher Education Legislation; New Economic Development Tools and Government Reforms
***92% of McDonnell Agenda Passes General Assembly***


RICHMOND – The overwhelming majority of Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2011 legislative agenda passed Virginia’s General Assembly with strong bipartisan support. Ninety-two percent of his initiatives passed the majority Republican House of Delegates and the majority Democratic State Senate and now await his signature.

The Governor’s success in the session was highlighted by legislative approval of his four chief objectives, which he outlined in his January 12th State of the Commonwealth Address. The General Assembly, in bipartisan votes on each measure, passed McDonnell’s legislation to:

· Create the framework to put nearly $4 billion into transportation over just the next three years; the largest investment in transportation in Virginia in a generation
· Make higher education more accessible and affordable in the Commonwealth through passage of the Governor’s “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011” – The legislation is part of the Governor’s overall effort to award 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years, and bring more innovation and accountability, and STEM concentration, to Virginia’s colleges and universities
· Institute a series of government reform measures to make Virginia state government smaller, smarter and more efficient
· Establish, through his “Opportunity At Work” initiative, new economic development tools to help new and existing businesses create new jobs in the Commonwealth

This year’s agenda builds on Governor McDonnell’s successful inaugural General Assembly Session in 2010 in which he reduced state spending to 2006 levels, closed $6 billion in budget shortfalls without raising taxes, and witnessed 80% of his legislative proposals become law. To learn more about the Governor’s 2010 legislative agenda, please visit: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=74
Speaking about the 2011 General Assembly Session, Governor McDonnell remarked, “In just six productive weeks, the General Assembly has worked diligently to pass, in a strong bipartisan manner, legislation that will greatly improve Virginia’s transportation system, increase access to higher education, streamline and reform government, and help grow opportunities in our economy. This is proof Virginia still sets the example for the rest of the nation by demonstrating that we can work together and put aside party politics to provide common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our citizens.”

McDonnell continued, “I am pleased that, with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats, we passed legislation that will provide the largest commitment to transportation in over a generation. This legislation creates the framework to pump $4 billion into roads, bridges and rail over the next three years in every region of the Commonwealth. Our economy will benefit, new jobs will be created, and Virginians will be able to get to work a little easier in the morning and home to their families a little quicker in the evening. With our top bond rating we will get the best interest rates at low prices, and we will be able to start projects now. And with our multiple audits, and this new legislation, we will improve the performance of VDOT. For too long we have failed to invest properly in transportation. The 2011 session will be remembered for this breakthrough legislation, and I thank the bipartisan leadership of Speaker Bill Howell, Delegate Glen Oder, Chairman Chuck Colgan and Senator William Wampler.”

McDonnell added, “We also passed landmark higher education legislation that will create a roadmap for awarding 100,000 new degrees over the next 15 years. The ‘Top Jobs’ legislation will make college more affordable and accessible for our students, and will ensure more accountability among our institutions. I want to thank the bipartisan leadership of Delegates Kirk Cox and Rosalyn Dance and Senators Edd Houck and Tommy Norment in carrying this legislation.”

He further noted, “Through the passage of key government reform proposals we are well on our way to further streamlining state government and making it more accountable to the taxpayers. The proposals were a product of the hard work of the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring. They include eliminating boards and commissions, combining and streamlining agencies, ending some unfunded mandates on localities, and establishing an Inspector General to investigate waste and inefficiencies in state government.”

Governor McDonnell concluded, “Finally, we continued to implement new economic development and job creation tools through our ‘Opportunity at Work’ agenda that will attract new businesses to the Commonwealth and help existing businesses grow. Virginia remains the nation’s top state in which to do business, and these tools will ensure that we continue that trend, allowing us to compete better against other states and countries.”

Lieutenant Governor and Chief Jobs Creations Officer Bill Bolling commented, “During this year’s legislative session, we were able to make significant progress advancing our agenda to get Virginia’s economy growing again and create jobs for Virginia families. I want to thank the General Assembly for approving many of the major components of our ‘Opportunity At Work’ agenda which will give us more tools to recruit new businesses to Virginia, help existing businesses expand, and give us more resources to promote Virginia domestically and internationally as a great place to do business. As a result, we can be even more aggressive in advancing our key economic development strategies and competing for new business in important sectors including biotechnology, life sciences, information technology, tourism and small business. We will also be able to enhance our efforts to improve our workforce training programs in Virginia. Our ‘Opportunity At Work’ agenda will help create more jobs and promote economic growth in the Commonwealth for years to come.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli added, “I am heartened that the General Assembly passed a critical – and long time coming – resolution this session to enshrine private property protections in the Virginia Constitution. It is a critical first step in ensuring that political whims and special interests can no longer chip away at this very fundamental right of the people.”

Speaking about the historic transportation legislation that he patroned in the House, Speaker William J. Howell remarked, “The General Assembly’s passage of significant, innovative and cost-effective legislation to strengthen Virginia’s transportation network is good news for all Virginians. House Bill 2527 / SB 1446 now will provide VDOT additional tools to leverage available private and local government funding to expedite transportation improvements across the Commonwealth. I’m especially delighted that the legislation creates a new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which will be capitalized by at least $282.7 million to provide grants to local governmental entities and loans to private entities that have entered into public-private transportation act agreements. I’m also delighted that the legislation expands the existing VDOT revenue-sharing program by raising the per-project state match from $1 million to $10 million, and an increase in overall funding for the program from a maximum of $50 million per year to $200 million each year. Because these funds will be matched on a dollar-to-dollar basis by local investments in transportation, it doubles the infrastructure projects that can be undertaken. Governor McDonnell’s leadership and championing of this common-sense legislation represents the type of bold approach needed to ensure Virginia has a modern transportation system.”

Senator Edd Houck (D-Spotsylvania), who co-patroned the “Top Jobs” legislation in the Senate, commented, “Every student in Virginia deserves the access to a top-quality education at an affordable price. As tuitions skyrocket and admissions get harder at our higher education institutions, I am pleased that we have begun to create a roadmap that will increase access and reduce costs. Virginia is home to some of the top universities in the country and we have an excellent higher education system. This legislation will ensure that our universities remain at the top and maintain their excellence, but also opens the door to more opportunities for our students.”

Senator Walter Stosch (R-Henrico), who carried a number of government reform bills, noted, “I am proud to work with the Governor on this important reform legislative package. This year we passed legislation that will establish a State Inspector General who will identify and eliminate waste, fraud, abuse and corruption in state government. This is a much needed reform that, along with the elimination of several mandates and 49 boards and commissions, will save taxpayer money and make state government more efficient.”

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