A look at some House and Senate Budget proposals

February 10, 2015

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House and Senate Budget Proposals
VACo continues to analyze the budget proposals put forward by the General Assembly’s Money Committees. Below are additional details about specific issue areas. Look to future Capitol Contact releases for additional analysis.

Compensation Board

  • The Senate maintained the VACo supported salary increases included in the introduced budget for entry-level deputy sheriffs. The House also kept this salary increase through targeted funding and an across the board increase. Both budgets accepted the VACo supported amendment to eliminate the mandate that future salary increases be funded by localities to keep up with changes in inflation.
  • The Senate provides an additional 3 percent salary increase for all constitutional officers and regional jail superintendents and their Compensation Board funded employees, effective September 1, 2015. The House provides a 2 percent salary increase for all constitutional officers and regional jail superintendents and their Compensation Board funded employees, effective August 1, 2015. For both budget proposals the across the board increase is contingent upon the state meeting or exceeding revenue estimates.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston, CAE

 

Public Safety and Jail Funding

  • The Senate accepted the VACo supported amendment that should exempt all localities from having the state seize fines and fees that are collected based on local ordinances.
  • VACo advocated for an additional $11.3 million for jail per diems in FY 2015, which was included in the Governor’s amended budget. The estimated cost for fourth quarter reimbursement to localities recently went up to $13.8 million and the Senate and House budgets provide the full $13.8 million.
  • The Senate amends language in the introduced budget that would reduce the state reimbursement for capital construction contribution for regional jails to 25 percent from 50 percent, and makes the reduction to 25 percent only applicable for new regional jails, effective for projects approved by the Governor after July 1, 2015, and maintaining the 50 percent reimbursement level for expansions or renovations of existing regional jails. This conforms to the amended version of SB 1049 (McDougle).
  • Both budgets provide funding for 50 percent of the capital costs for the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail and Pamunkey Regional Jail.
  • 599 Funding – Both budget proposals maintain funding for state assistance to local law enforcement and include language to clarify that the amounts distributed to each locality in both FY 2015 and FY 2016 shall be equal to the amount provided in 2014.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston, CAE

 

Economic and Community Development

  • The House included the Governor’s request for an additional $20.7 million for the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund while the Senate proposes a $4.4 million decrease.
  • In the Department of Housing and Community Development the Senate recommends a $500,000 increase for rapid re-housing assistance and restoring $650,000 for the Enterprise Zone Program. The House does not include this funding and directs $80,000 of the Enterprise Zone Program’s real property improvement grants to be used for a review of the Enterprise Zone Program.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston, CAE

 

Elementary and Secondary Education

Pay raise for instructional personnel
Both the House and Senate budgets propose a 1.5 percent pay increase for teachers in FY 2016. The House budget adds $55 million out of general funds to provide the state share of the 1.5 percent pay increase for teachers and support staff. Under the House proposal school divisions will be eligible to receive the state share on the condition that pay increases occur by January 1, 2016. The Senate proposes an increase of $50.4 million in general funds for FY 2016 to meet the state’s share in providing the 1.5 percent pay increase for teachers.

VRS Pension liability
The House budget transfers $190 million of the proceeds from old unclaimed stocks be transferred to pay down the deferred contribution portion of the unfunded liability in the teacher retirement account. The Senate budget includes $187.2 million for the one-time payment. This will lower the unfunded liability for localities and the teacher retirement contribution rate for the state and localities from 14.5 to around 14.07 percent.

Virginia Pre-School Initiative (VPI)
Both House and Senate budgets have language to establish a five member Joint Subcommittee (comprised of members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee) to provide recommendations for the reforming VPI. Both budgets establish a deadline of November 1, 2015 for the Subcommittee to issue recommendations.

 

Other Education Proposals in House Budget

  • Provides additional $50 million from Literary Fund to support loans for school construction.
  • Provides $100,000 in general funds for FY 2016 to help meet costs associated with development and training of local school board members.
  • Provides $200,000 in general funds for FY 2016 for five grants up to $40,000 each to support planning for High School Program Innovation.
  • Provides $366,000 in general funds for FY 2016 to assist local school divisions to establish criteria for the professional development of teachers and principals on the subject of high-need students.
  • Provides $75,000 in general funds for FY 2016 for the Board of Education to redesign the School Performance Report Card. The Board of Education is required to recommend a new design to the General Assembly by July 1, 2016.
  • Provides $1 million in general funds for FY 2016 to support costs associated with the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program administered by the University of Virginia.
  • Provides $60,300 in general funds for FY 2016 to support Northern Neck Regional Technical Center to expand workforce readiness education and industry based skills.
  • Provides $300,000 in general funds for FY 2016 to support the “Virtual Virginia” program, which offers pre-Advanced Placement (AP), honors and other classes, allowing students to take such courses when not locally available.
  • Language: Requires any remaining annual balance for “Teach for America” to be carried over to the next fiscal year.
  • Language: Provides flexibility by allowing local school divisions to pilot new “Breakfast After the Bell” programs for elementary school students.

 

Other Education Proposals in Senate Budget

  • Provides $1 million in FY 2016 towards innovative teach residency preparation programs.
  • Provides $220,191 in general funds for FY 2016 to the new Virginia Center for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Provides $7.7 million in general funds for FY 2016 for transitional support for targeted extended school year efforts to improve student achievement.
  • Language: Reaffirms state’s goal to encourage school division consolidations. By December 1, 2015, the Commission on Local Government is required to report on a process for making an appropriate calculation for additional state funds to promote local consolidations.
  • Language: Expands the type of equipment that school divisions may purchase with their supplemental educational technology funds from just tablets to any handheld computer device.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

 

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Agricultural BMP Cost-Share
The House and Senate budgets recommend increases in general funds in FY 2016 for the agricultural BMP (Best Management Practices) cost-share program to reduce nonpoint source pollution for the improvement of water quality. The House budget proposes an increase of $10.7 million – $1.6 million will be allocated to Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The Senate budget proposes a $6 million increase the Agricultural BMP Cost-Share program.

Fees imposed by VDACS
The House and Senate propose to eliminate increases in the Governor’s proposed budget in fees administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture (VDACS) applying to weights and measures and non-restaurant food establishment programs.

Cooperative Coyote Program
The House and Senate budgets propose the use of general funds to restore the cooperative coyote program. For FY 2016, the House provides $190,000 to this program, and the Senate recommends $100,000.

Shoreline Erosion and Sediment Control Program
For FY 2016, the House budget provides $200,000 in general funds for the hiring of two FTEs to support Shoreline Advisory Services at the Department of Conservation and Recreation. To serve the same program the Senate budget recommends $100,000.

Other Agriculture and Natural Resources Proposals in House Budget

  • For FY 2016 provides $1 million in general funds for the Office of Farmland Preservation and the Civil War Historic Site Preservation Fund.
  • For FY 2016 provides $4 million in general funds for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.
  • Language: Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convene a task force to identify sources of Lyme Disease.

 

Other Agriculture and Natural Resources Proposals in Senate Budget

  • Authorizes $10 million in bonds in FY 2016 to support the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF), created to provide grants for the upgrade of urban stormwater systems by local governments.
  • Provides $100,000 in general funds for FY 2015 for an assessment by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District of the feasibility of the use of treated waste water by the RockTenn paper mill in West Point as an alternative to the mill’s current use of groundwater.
  • Provides $2.7 million in general funds for FY 2015 to capitalize Nutrient Credit Fund to support Virginia’s Nutrient Credit program as part of a strategy for reducing nutrient pollution in state waters.
  • For state parks: Provides $904,198 in general funds ($752,870 in FY 2015 and $151,328 in FY 2016) to replace furnishings in oldest cabins located in state parks.
  • Provides $1 million in general funds for FY 2016 for the Virginia Brownfields Restoration Fund to provide grants or loans for site remediation in support of economic development projects.
  • Provides $500,000 in general funds for FY 2016 to support the Natural Area Preserve Program.
  • For FY 2016 authorizes a deposit of $150,000 from general funds into Soil and Water Conservation District Maintenance Fund from the previous fiscal year for small dam repairs.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

 

Costly procurement bill defeated on the House Floor
HB 1540 (Albo), which would have prohibited local governments from asking for any information about how expensive a company’s services will be when procuring professional services, was defeated on the House floor on February 9.

Thank you to VACo members who calculated the local fiscal impacts and responded to VACo’s Capitol Contact ALERT by discussing the negative implications for local taxpayers with their delegate.

Delegate David Toscano raised concerns on the floor about the local fiscal impact statement. Delegate Jimmie Massie and Delegate Christopher Stolle spoke against the bill because it would increase costs for local taxpayers. Two efforts to move the bill forward were defeated by a voice vote and then a show of hands. No recorded vote was taken on the bill but please thank the delegates for voting against HB 1540 as a majority listened to the numerous localities from across the state.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, CAE and Erik Johnston, CAE

 

Bill requiring stormwater fee waivers for religious institutions fails
VACo opposed HB 1293 (Morris), which requires localities waive stormwater utility fees for properties owned by churches and other religious institutions. The bill also exempts religious institutions from paying stormwater program fees when they apply for Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) permits. On January 29, an Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee voted to table the bill.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE

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