General Assembly approves budget amendment on Local Fines and Fees, other issues during Reconvened Session

April 21, 2016

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The General Assembly reconvened on April 20 to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe’s budget amendment package to adjust HB 30 for FY 2017-2018. Out of the Governor’s 30 budget amendments, the General Assembly approved 16.

The General Assembly passed Governor McAuliffe’s Budget Amendment 29 that eliminates the state seizure of locally collected fines and fees, one of VACo’s top priorities. Beginning in FY 2017, all fines and fees will stay with the locality where it is collected.

VACo thanks its members for your work contacting delegates and senators to support this amendment.

The following are approved gubernatorial budget amendments of interest:

Amendment 1: Adjust additions to balance for the sale of the Alexandria ABC building
This amendment adjusts additions to balance on the front page by $11.1 million to account for the increase in General Fund balance that will result from the delayed sale of the Alexandria ABC building. The proceeds of the building sale were not accounted for in the revenue estimates included in HB 30.

Amendment 2: Adjust additions to balance for surplus debt service funding
This amendment adjusts additions to balance on the front page by $3 million for increased balances resulting from surplus debt service funding in FY 2016.

Amendment 3: Clarify JLARC’s evaluation role in economic development
This amendment clarifies that the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) shall have an evaluation role on economic development initiatives. It also clarifies that records that have been excluded from disclosure under FIOA are not subject to disclosure by JLARC.

Amendment 4: Fund electronic case file submission system
This amendment provides $175,950 in general fund appropriation to cover the cost of an electronic case file submission system between general district and circuit court.

Amendment 5: Correct fiscal year funding for weighted caseload evaluation study
This amendment provides funding to update the judicial weighted caseload study in the first year of the biennium instead of the second year.

Amendment 6: Authorize the use of CHRB funding for joint projects with VBHRC
This amendment authorizes the expenditure of up to $2.5 million of funds managed by the Commonwealth Health Research Board (CHRB) toward collaborative research projects between CHRB and Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) that would support Virginia’s core bioscience strengths, improve human health, and demonstrate commercial viability and a high likelihood of creating new companies and jobs in Virginia.

Amendment 11: Reversion of Chamberlin Hotel property to the Commonwealth
This amendment eliminates problematic language related to the economic development conveyance the Governor’s Office has been negotiating with the Army for the past several months.

Amendment 13: Remove Virginia Virtual School funding and positions
This amendment removes funding and positions provided for the start-up of the Virginia Virtual School in FY 2018, as the legislation authorizing the creation of this program is not expected to be enacted into law.

Amendment 14: Remove Virginia Virtual School language
This amendment removes language directing the transfer of direct aid payments to the Virginia Virtual School beginning in FY 2019. The language is contingent upon passage of House Bill 8, which is not expected to be enacted into law.

Amendment 15: Remove technology review language
This amendment removes a paragraph that includes language directing the Department of Education to create a workgroup to review the Department’s Virginia Digital Textbook Marketplace contract and guidelines for the implementation of the pilot projects established in eight school divisions in the 2015-2016 school year and review the effectiveness of the pilots at the end of the year for improving academic success. The technology associated with these pilot projects was not implemented fully enough in the 2015-2016 school year for adequate evaluation, and it will take more operational time and school division participation before the effectiveness of the pilot projects can be evaluated. The paragraph also has the workgroup review other educational technology and repurposing of educational technology grants that the Department of Education is either already implementing or has already studied. In addition, other workgroup study requirements in this language can be addressed by another paragraph placed under the Department of Education to holistically review the statewide use of technology in the classroom and all sources of digital content development and online learning.

Amendment 16: Establish cybersecurity scholarship for public service grant program
This amendment creates a new scholarship program under the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to encourage individuals pursuing cybersecurity degrees to work for Virginia state government upon graduation. Given the higher wages typically available in the private sector, it is difficult for state government to attract talented cybersecurity individuals to help Virginia ensure it can protect its automated systems and sensitive information from attack or infiltration. The proposed scholarship program would require state government service for every year that scholarship funding is provided. This program mimics a successful program presently utilized by the federal government to attract cybersecurity talent.

Amendment 24: Remove obsolete language
This amendment removes obsolete language referencing bond authorization in the Introduced Budget Bill. The bond authorization was removed from the budget bill and provided in separate legislation, therefore, the language is no longer relevant.

Amendment 25: Modify conflicting Rail and Public Transportation study language
This amendment replaces the language in the budget with a new narrative to ensure there is no conflict with HB 1359. The General Assembly enacted HB 1359 to establish the Transit Capital Project Revenue Advisory Board (the Advisory Board) within the Department of Rail and Public Transportation to examine the effects of the loss of state transit capital funds and identify additional sources of revenue. The Advisory Board, which expires on July 1, 2018, is required to provide both an interim and a final report on its work and findings.

Amendment 26: Adjust language related to Ports debt service cap
This amendment adds language allowing the Governor to approve the Port Authority to exceed the $45 million debt service cap if the capital lease with the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) Terminal in Portsmouth is executed. The budget has existing language limiting the total amount of debt service paid by the Port Authority to $45 million annually. It is anticipated that the new lease agreement related to the VIG Terminal will result in the agency surpassing the $45 million cap. Chapter 665, 2015 Acts of Assembly, allows the Port Authority to enter into a new lease agreement related to the VIG Terminal.

Amendment 27: Workers’ Compensation Capital Authorization
This amendment corrects the chapter reference, which provided additional appropriation for the capital project and authorized the Department of General Services, with the cooperation and support of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, to enter into a capital lease for the Commission’s new headquarters.

VACo Contact: Beau Blevins

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