Thursday, March 31, 2011

Governor McDonnell Announces “Black and Gold Day” to Raise Money for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2011


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


Governor McDonnell Announces “Black and Gold Day”to Raise Money for VCU’s Massey Cancer Center
~Governor’s Office Encourages All Virginia Businesses to Participate~

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced the Governor’s Staff will participate in a “casual Friday” to support VCU as they play in the Final Four this Saturday. Friday, April 1st will be “Black and Gold Day” at the Governor’s Office. In order to participate, each staff member is being asked to contribute $4.00 to Team Virginia to support VCU Massey Cancer Center's Massey Challenge, the charitable partnership of the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10k presented by MARTIN'S.

Speaking about “Black and Gold Day,” Governor McDonnell remarked, “The Capital City is filled with enthusiasm and spirit for the VCU Rams, and all of Virginia is proud of what VCU has accomplished. We thought this would be an opportunity to show our support for the team by wearing black and gold to work on Friday while, at the same time, raising funds for the life-saving work done by the VCU Massey Cancer Center.”

The Governor is also encouraging businesses throughout Richmond and Virginia to participate in “Black and Gold Day”. Contributions can be made by joining Team Virginia here (minimum online donation is $10.00) or by collecting $4.00 per person in-house and sending contributions to VCU Massey Cancer Center ATTN: Team Virginia. All proceeds will go to the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Virginia businesses and organizations participating in “Black and Gold Day” can show their spirit by emailing photos of their staff’s participation to press@governor.virginia.gov and the top ones will be posted on the Governor’s Facebook page and on the Governor’s website. The Governor and his staff will be taking a photo on the steps of the Capitol on Friday.

About VCU Massey Cancer Center VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of only 66 National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the country that leads and shapes America’s cancer research efforts. Working with all kinds of cancers, the Center conducts basic, translational and clinical cancer research, provides state-of-the-art treatments and clinical trials, and promotes cancer prevention and education. Since 1974, Massey has served as an internationally recognized center of excellence. It has one of the largest offerings of clinical trials in Virginia and serves patients in Richmond and in four satellite locations. Its 1,000 researchers, clinicians and staff members are dedicated to improving the quality of human life by developing and delivering effective means to prevent, control and ultimately to cure cancer. Visit Massey online at www.massey.vcu.edu or call 877-4-MASSEY for more information.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Governor McDonnell Sends Down Budget Amendments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2011


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


Governor McDonnell Sends Down Budget Amendments
Amendments Strengthen and Reform Virginia Retirement System; Eliminate Taxpayer Funding for Public Broadcasting
Governor Also Calls for Increased Funding for Job-Creation Efforts; $7.5 Million to Help Retain Naval Air Station Oceana; Reinstates Public Safety Funding; Dedicates an Additional $1 Million for Land Conservation
Governor’s Budget Amendment Letter Attached to Press Release

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell has submitted his amendments to the budget passed by the General Assembly during the 2011 session. The Governor sent in the fiscal amendments prior to last night’s midnight deadline for executive action. The amendments were highlighted by the Governor’s actions to strengthen the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), enhance job creation efforts, support public safety and eliminate taxpayer funding for public broadcasting in the Commonwealth.

The Governor’s actions on VRS were aimed at restoring the fiscal integrity of the system, including increasing the employer retirement contribution to all plans for the final five pay periods of FY 2012. This would result in $27.8 million in additional funding for the system. In addition, in an effort to bring the state retirement system into the 21st Century, the Governor has sent down language authorizing the creation of an optional defined contribution plan for state employees.

The Governor added $2.5 million for economic development programs to continue his ongoing effort to ensure the most pro-business environment possible in order to encourage and facilitate private-sector job creation. To support Virginia’s law enforcement community, the Governor submitted amendments to fully fund State Trooper overtime with an additional $3 million and increase support for local sheriffs by up to an additional $7.4 million. Both of these actions are intended to put more state troopers and deputy sheriffs on the street and in Virginia communities. The Governor is also again asking the General Assembly to eliminate taxpayer funding for public broadcasting. In his amendments, he has returned to his original proposal for the elimination of 50% of state funding for public broadcasting this fiscal year, and the elimination of the remaining 50% in FY 2013. The General Assembly had reduced that cut to only 10% of funding in FY 2012.

All told the Governor’s spending amendments equal only $43.8 million, which will be offset by $49.9 million in savings or additional revenue over the biennium.

The Governor’s budget amendments will:

• Secure $27.8 million for the Virginia Retirement System by increasing the employer retirement contribution

• Create an optional defined contribution plan for interested state employees

• Speed up monthly payments into the Virginia Retirement System to encourage more timely investments

• Provide local governments the option to require employees to contribute up to 5% to their own retirement plans

• Eliminate taxpayer funding of public broadcasting in the Commonwealth, saving taxpayers $4.2 million over the next two fiscal years

• Dedicate $7.5 million to efforts to keep Naval Air Station Oceana in the Commonwealth

• Support private-sector job creation by putting an additional $500,000 into the Virginia Main Street Program and restoring $2 million for industrial site revitalization

• Increase funding for the tourism marketing partnership grant program by $1 million

• Fully fund state trooper overtime through the use of an additional $3 million

• Provide up to $7.4 million for local sheriffs

• Dedicate $2.5 million for the operation of the sexually violent predator facility in Nottoway at increased capacity

• Utilize $1 million for land conservation efforts

• Support medical education at Eastern Virginia Medical School with additional $1 million in state funding

• Provide $2 million for renovation of the historic Rotunda at The University of Virginia

• Reclassify therapeutic foster care as a residential service, requiring $7.5 million

Speaking about his amendments to the current budget, Governor McDonnell remarked, “Over the past year, working in a bipartisan manner, we have cut $6 billion out of our budget. We dropped spending to 2006 levels, and we made the tough decisions that so many other states are just now beginning to contemplate. We did not raise taxes. Our efforts turned a budget shortfall into a surplus, and we are now seeing private sector job growth and economic activity pick up again in the Commonwealth. It is imperative that, as revenues rise in response to these positive developments, that we continue the fiscally conservative work that has gotten us to this point. We must invest taxpayer dollars wisely, and continue to identify spending that can be reduced or eliminated completely. We will grow our economy by keeping taxes low and budgeting responsibly.”

The Governor continued, “My amendments to this budget, which was passed with rare unanimous votes in both chambers of the General Assembly, maintain the general consensus between the House and Senate while advancing the priorities of the people of Virginia in the areas of public safety, job creation and education. Budgets are about setting priorities. In tough budget times we must have the will to determine what government must fund and what it should not, and act accordingly. We are not going to raise taxes in Virginia. Every dollar counts and must be spent wisely. That is why I have called again for the elimination, over the next two years, of all state funding for public broadcasting. In a world of broad and diverse options for news and entertainment, government should not be funding one specific channel as it competes against others in a free market. Television and radio broadcasts are not core functions of government. That $4.2 million can be better used elsewhere.”

The Governor added, “We have also proposed putting an additional $27.8 million into our woefully underfunded Virginia Retirement System through increased employer contributions. We will give state employees more control over their own financial futures by establishing an optional defined contribution plan that they can choose to participate in. We have a lot of work left to do to get our system solvent for the future, but this is a start in the right direction. It is time we brought our retirement system into the 21st Century. We will also continue to create a climate conducive to private-sector job creation by investing in state programs that help private-sector job creators to grow and thrive in the Commonwealth. We are wide open for business and we must continue to take every necessary step to ensure Virginia remains the best place in America in which to do business. I am also pleased to be able to return amendments providing for critically needed overtime pay for our State Troopers, and funding to help keep Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Oceana is an economic engine for the region and the state, and it is crucial that it remains in Hampton Roads.”

The General Assembly will consider the Governor’s budget amendments when it meets next week for the reconvened session.

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Why Hap Connors' Tax-and-spend policies won't work

Of course, we all knew this- with the record foreclosures, lowest wages in the region, and 2nd highest tax burden in the region he has already brought us.

If you are one of the more than 3500 unemployed in Spotsylvania, you have an advocate and a group of friends here.

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Statement of Chairman Steve Thomas on Spotsylvania's proposed 2012 tax rate

"Spotsylvania taxpayers and businesses are hurting like never before. We have the lowest weekly wages in the region, as the FLS reported this week. We led Virginia in foreclosure rate during the Great Recession, and had 3500 unemployed or more for the past 3 years. And each of those years we also had our taxes hiked, as a spendthrift Democrat majority on the Board of Supervisors chose tax-and-spend over compassion for those who were hurting so badly.

It didn't work so well for the Democrats in Washington who tried that strategy. And now those Democrat Supervisors should share the electoral fate of their DC brethren.

Rolling back the 2010 tax hikes is a necessary first step in a comprehensive plan to create jobs, solidify homeowners and businesses and get our county back on a path to prosperity. After 35 years of tax hikes, it's time for some balance to our county's fiscal policy. It's time to stop the spending and start looking after the beleaguered homeowners and businesses of Spotsylvania.

It's time for a 3 cent tax cut- or to replace those spendthrift Democrat Supervisors who will not vote for one."

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I'm still in the 4th!

Much to my surprise, Edd Houck chose not to extend his district eastward, and thus I'm still in the 4th State Senate District under the Senate Democrats' map. Yes, I know, Janet Howell has her name on it, but I have always presumed Edd could draw whatever district he wanted (being as his was the most Republican district represented by a Dem) and the caucus would simply graft it onto whatever they were doing. Houck's precision was surgical. He took out any precinct he lost in 2007; held on to his best precincts in Culpeper, and stretched out to a piece of Albemarle. Yet he did not take a single Spotsylvanian from McDougle. For more on the Spotsy situation, see here. Cross-posted to VV and RWL

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Monday, March 28, 2011

New district lines could come down tomorrow

If Tyler Whitely is to be believed (note to Tyler: that's just a rhetorical flourish, not an integrity question), "Virginia lawmakers could introduce redistricting plans for the House of Delegates, Virginia Senate and Congress as early as Tuesday" (Richmond Times-Dispatch).


This could - stress, could - mean that Edd Houck will unofficially swallow up the part of Spotsylvania County outside of his 17th State Senate District by this time tomorrow.


Now, as much as the rumors of a primary challenger to Houck would be fun to follow, I sincerely hope that I and as much of eastern Spotsy as possible can remain in the 4th District. It has been a real privilege to be served by Ryan McDougle, who among other things called the EPA to the carpet when it fudged stormwater data.


If I can stay in McDougle's district, I will be thrilled; if not, I wish him well.


Cross-posted to RWL

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I don't trust Spotsy's 5.1% unemployment rate

If labor force participation rates nationally were what they were 4 years ago, unemployment would be 11.5%.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reason #6 why we need to replace Senator Houck: He's pro-Planned Parenthood

On the session and the budget revisions:
"The 2011 session -- on the budget piece -- we have changed the trajectory where the state was going with finances. Instead of multi-billion reductions, we're adding back modest amounts. But at least we have changed the trajectory, which is significant. That I think is important coming out of the worst economic times since the Great Depression."
On passage of a measure to regulate abortion clinics like hospitals:
"The vote [Feb. 24] was a huge, huge disappointment. We put Virginia in an embarrassing situation compared to other states. A woman's right to choose has been diminished. There's no question about that. It was unanticipated. I think we sort of expected there would be stuff like that but it wasn't until it happened that it was really staring us in the face."
On passage of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell"s $2.9 billion transportation plan:
"While I have some concerns about borrowing to meet short-term needs -- again, it's not a long-term solution -- it nevertheless will get some needed and overdue projects for Loudoun and western Fairfax."

WaPo link here

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