The Voice of the

Commonwealth's Counties

School Construction Financing Bills Headed to the Senate Floor

On January 23, the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee reported SB 14 (McPike) on a bipartisan vote of 10-4. As previously reported, SB 14 would permit any county or city to impose an additional local sales and use tax of up to 1 percent, if initiated by a resolution of the local governing body and approved by voters at a local referendum. The revenues of such a local tax would be used solely for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools. Any tax imposed shall expire when the costs for capital projects are to be repaid and shall not be more than 20 years after the date of the resolution passed.

Currently, this authority is limited to the qualifying localities of Charlotte, Gloucester, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Northampton, Patrick, and Pittsylvania Counties and the City of Danville. SB 146 (Mulchi), which expands this authority to Prince Edward County, was also reported from the same committee by a bipartisan 11-3 vote. VACo supports both bills and has testified in committee to that effect. Thank you to everyone who responded to our Action Alert.

These bills allow Counties to exercise a local voter approved option to meet their community needs. They are NOT an automatic tax increase.

ACTION REQUIRED – Contact your Senators now to encourage their support of these measures. Please let VACo know how your legislators respond to your request. These bills will likely be up for a final vote in the Senate on Friday. Please contact Senators TODAY to urge them to support SB 14 and SB 146.

The House Companions of SB 14, HB 600 (Kilgore) and HB 805 (Rasoul), have been referred to the House Finance Committee but have yet been assigned to a subcommittee. Additional standalone legislation for Prince Edward County, HB 60 (Wright), and Stafford County, HB 193 (Cole), are also supported by VACo and have been referred to the House Finance Committee.

ACTION REQUIRED – Contact your Delegates who serve on the House Finance Committee now to urge them to support HB 600, HB 805, HB 60, and HB 193.

Please review this video and one-pager for information on the desperate need for more school construction financing options.

KEY POINTS

  • Funding for school construction and renovation is one of the biggest concerns and responsibilities of local governments in the Commonwealth and has been almost solely a local responsibility for decades. The condition of the facilities in which children are educated has a direct impact on their ability to learn.
  • Many localities face significant challenges in raising sufficient funds to undertake these projects. These challenges include over-reliance on real property taxes to generate revenue, which can have vastly different yields depending on the locality and disproportionately burden a subset of taxpayers within a jurisdiction. This raises concerns over equity and diversity of revenues.
  • This legislation was a unanimous recommendation by the Commission on School Construction and Modernization.
  • This bill is about parity for local governments, giving all counties the same authority currently given to nine localities.
  • This bill is NOT a tax increase. It would merely create a local option and another tool in the toolbox of local government, which would only be enacted by local referendum.

VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett

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