Thursday, February 16, 2012

At Crossover, Governor McDonnell’s Legislative Initiatives Move Forward with Broad Bipartisan Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2012
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Email: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov

At Crossover, Governor McDonnell’s Legislative Initiatives Move Forward with Broad Bipartisan Support

Major legislative initiatives in job creation, K-12 education, higher education, pension system reform, transportation, veteran’s issues, public safety, and government reform advance at half-way point

RICHMOND – At the half-way point of the 2012 General Assembly Session, a vast majority of Governor Bob McDonnell’s legislative initiatives, which focus on strengthening the core functions of government to spur private sector job creation and get Virginia’s economy back on track, have passed their respective houses with broad bipartisan support and will now be considered in the opposite chamber.

Governor McDonnell’s legislative initiatives are focused on eight major areas: jobs and economic development, K-12 education, higher education, pension system reform, government reform, transportation, public safety, and efforts to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America:·

“The Greatest Opportunity” jobs and economic development agenda to increase access to capital for business and implement greater coordination among economic development entities, along with budget items increasing the support of job creation funds and initiatives·

“Opportunity to Learn” K-12 education reform agenda focused on raising standards for schools and teachers; reducing mandates on local school divisions; expanding educational options for Virginia students; enhancing teacher quality; and funding for critical education and training programs·

Higher education reforms and investment to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance toward the governor’s goal of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees in the next 15 years·

“A More Efficient, Effective Government” reform measures that streamline and merge certain state agencies, boards and commissions; and, reduces unfunded mandates on localities·

Virginia Retirement System (VRS) legislative reform initiatives to address the long-term unfunded liabilities of the system and a budget proposal to inject the largest employer contribution to VRS in history·

Transportation measures that provide additional funding for maintaining Virginia’s infrastructure and will continue the administration’s efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Virginia’s transportation entities while delivering transportation projects more quickly and cost effectively·

Public safety measures that provide tough mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drug dealers and life sentences for sex offenders who prey on children; further protect victims of crime; streamline procedures for Virginia’s asset forfeiture laws; reduce recidivism; improve successful prisoner re-entry programs; and, strengthen the response to emergencies and ensure maximum protection for victims·

Veterans measures that ensure that all members of the Virginia National Guard receive in-state tuition; improve absentee ballot access for overseas military; and guarantee that unclaimed remains of veterans receive honorable burials

Speaking about his 2012 legislative agenda, Governor McDonnell commented, “This session, we laid out bold initiatives all focused around a common goal of getting our economy back on track and helping spur private sector job growth. I am pleased to see that these major initiatives are advancing at the half-way point of session. We are focused on getting results on the major challenges facing our citizens. That means passing policies that help the private sector create good-paying jobs; increase access to higher education; further improve our high-quality K-12 education; build a transportation system that best serves its users; make government smaller and smarter; help our veterans here at home; and ensure our citizens are safe and secure.

The General Assembly has rallied around our initiatives in these areas and passed them with bipartisan support, and I thank them for their partnership with us. These are initiatives that will greatly improve the quality of life in Virginians today while also investing in the future of the Commonwealth.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “This year, we are on track to pass innovative education reform legislation that will increase educational options for our children and strengthen classroom learning so that every child has access to great teachers, high standards, and programs that will pave the road to success upon graduation. We are continuing to advance important jobs and economic development legislation that builds on this administration’s top priority – ensuring that more Virginians can find good jobs. It is critical that we continue to invest in job creating measures and tools so that businesses are able to grow and thrive here in the Commonwealth.

Making government smaller and more efficient and effective for all Virginians is an important initiative of this administration. We are advancing proposals to get the Virginia Retirement System in a stronger position both legislatively and through a budget proposal to make the largest employer contribution to VRS in history. Building off the good work of the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring we are advancing legislation that will make government work better by consolidating duplicative state agencies, boards and commissions, eliminating outdated programs and reducing operating expenses.

Also part of our government reform agenda is legislation to reduce burdensome unfunded mandates the state sends down to localities. Finally, we are advancing legislation that ensures that our streets remain safe so that businesses and families continue to choose to make the Commonwealth home, as well as legislation to help reach our goal of making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America.”

Governor McDonnell concluded, “There is one central theme among all of this legislation – and that is job creation. By ensuring that our children are receiving a high-quality education so that they are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century, continuing to invest in private sector job creation initiatives, reducing the size and scope of government to best utilize tax-payers hard earned money, and making sure that we are best serving those who protect our freedom at home and abroad, we are setting Virginia on the right course today to get more Virginians back to work, while also preparing the Commonwealth for success in the future.”

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