After several months of staff preparations, steering committee meetings and lively debate during the association’s annual conference, VACo adopted its 2016 Legislative Program on November 10.
VACo membership identified K-12 Public Education Funding as the association’s overarching legislative priority for the 2016 General Assembly Session.
VACo’s legislative priority is:
To assure each child in Virginia a quality education necessary for their success, VACo calls upon the Governor and General Assembly to fully fund the Standards of Quality as recommended by the Board of Education and the Standards of Accreditation.
The provision of a quality education for all Virginia’s children is the most important function of state and local government. When adjusted for inflation, state per pupil spending on public education is less than funding levels in FY 2005. With increased educational mandates, increased students and state policy changes that decreased education funding local school divisions have had to eliminate important academic programs, cut instructional and support staff, and increase class sizes, despite strong local efforts to improve efficiencies in public education. VACo looks forward to working with the Governor and General Assembly to address these serious challenges facing public education in our Commonwealth.
VACo’s 2016 Legislative Program also addresses other priorities. In the realm of Economic Development and Planning, VACo’s members support maintaining local authority to plan and regulate land use and oppose any legislation that weakens these key local responsibilities. The top priority in Environment and Agriculture is Water Quality Improvement Funding. And the priority in Finance is to support the authority of county governments to levy and collect revenue from local business taxes.
Broadband, Health and Human Resources Funding, K-12 Workforce Development Cooperation, Devolution of Secondary Roads, Local-State Transportation Funding and Cooperation and Transportation Revenue Sharing are other legislative priorities.
Also, VACo plans to concentrate efforts toward beating back anticipated legislation to eliminate the authority of local governments to impose the Business, Professional and Licensing (BPOL) tax during the 2016 legislative session.