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Commonwealth's Counties

VACo-Requested Budget Amendments Introduced

VACo worked with members of the General Assembly to introduce budget amendments that seek to address key priorities of local government.  Member budget amendments were released on Thursday, January 18, and will be considered over the coming weeks as the “money committees” prepare to report their respective budgets on February 18. VACo is grateful to budget amendment patrons for working to ensure that localities’ priorities are under consideration during the budget deliberation process.

VACo encourages members to contact their legislators in support of these amendments, particularly if your Delegate or Senator serves on the House Appropriations Committee, or the House Finance Committee, or the Senate Finance Committee.

Below is a summary of the amendments introduced at VACo’s request:

Jail per diems
Item 66 #3h (Gooditis)/Item 67 #2s (Barker)/Item 67 #3s (Ebbin) provide a 13 percent inflation adjustment for per diem payments for local- and state-responsible inmates; this increase mirrors the equivalent rise in the Consumer Price Index since 2010, the last time jail per diems were adjusted (at which time the local-responsible payment was reduced to $4 per day and the state-responsible payment was changed from $8 per day for the first 60 days and $14 per day thereafter to a standard rate of $12 per day).  The amendment also includes language directing per diems to be adjusted for inflation in future budgets.

Sheriffs’ deputies with law enforcement responsibility
Item 66 #4h (Thomas)/Item 66 #3 (Vogel) provide funding to meet the statutory ratio of one law enforcement deputy per 1,500 people in each locality served by a sheriff’s office with primary law enforcement responsibility.  The amendment would provide funds for 195 law enforcement deputies in FY 2019 and 12 additional deputies in FY 2020.

Voting machines
Item 476 #2h (O’Quinn)/Item 87 #1s (Carrico)/Item 87 #2s (Vogel) amend the “caboose” budget to provide funding in FY 2018 to reimburse counties that were required to replace their voting machines shortly before the November 2017 election due to the decision by the State Board of Elections in September 2017 to decertify Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines.

Special education wraparound services provided through the Children’s Services Act
Item 282 #5h (Bell, Richard P.)/Item 282 #4s (Hanger) reduce the local match rate for special education wraparound services to the community-based rate.  These services, such as in-home counseling and mentoring, are provided in the home and community for a student with a disability when the needs associated with that disability extend beyond the school setting and threaten the child’s ability to remain in the home, community, or school setting.  The match rate was changed in FY 2014 to require an increased local contribution due to state budget challenges.  The State and Local Advisory Team, an advisory body to the State Executive Council, has advocated for that decision to be revisited in order to encourage localities to make more use of wraparound funds and potentially avoid more costly private day or residential placements.

Streamlining Medicaid enrollment for incarcerated persons
VACo worked with a coalition of partners to submit budget amendments that implement the recommendations of a 2017 study on how the process for determining eligibility and enrolling eligible inmates in Medicaid could be simplified.  The workgroup assembled in 2017 recommended centralizing the processing of inmate Medicaid applications and enrollment and creating a data exchange among the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), the Compensation Board, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.  These improvements will assist localities by allowing the inpatient hospitalization costs for eligible inmates to be covered by Medicaid without burdening individual local departments of social services with the responsibility for making eligibility determinations.  Item 73 #7h (Ingram)/Item 73 #8h (LaRock)/Item 67 #1s (Dance) provide funding for the Compensation Board’s portion of the costs associated with this project; Item 307 #3h (Ingram)/Item 307 #4h (LaRock)/Item 307 #7s (Dance) provide funding for the DMAS costs; Item 391 #31h (Ingram)/Item 391 #32h (LaRock)/Item 387 #1s (Dance) fund costs for the Department of Corrections; Item 413 #2h (Ingram)/Item 413 #3h (LaRock)/Item 412 #1s (Dance) cover costs at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

E-911 Wireless Fund Distributions
Item 273 #2h (Leftwich)/Item 427 #1s (Cosgrove) provide $3.3 million each year from balances in the E-911 Wireless Fund to hold harmless those localities that would otherwise lose funding in accordance with the funding formula change approved by the 911 Services Board in fall 2017.

Funding for state parks
Item 363 #4h (Kilgore) provides $5 million each year of the biennium to supplement current funding levels for the state parks; a portion of this funding would address the backlog of routine maintenance projects and a portion would fund additional staffing.  The amendment also includes language directing the development of a plan to fully fund all state parks, including operations, maintenance, and staffing.

Solar permitting process
Item 367 #1s (Lewis) requires the Department of Environmental Quality to study the process by which it reviews and approves applications for permit-by-rule for small renewable energy projects, to include the impacts on local resources, such as the costs incurred by local governments to review applications for stormwater and erosion and sediment control permits.  The Department is to provide recommendations on improvements to the process, including potential adjustments to state and local review application fees and time limits within which construction must commence.

Payments for service charges in lieu of taxes for correctional facilities
Item 391 #30h (Kilgore)/Item 391 #13s (Lucas) provide $1.4 million per year for service charges that may be levied by localities pursuant to statute to cover the costs of services (police and fire protection and collection of waste) provided to state correctional facilities.  The amendments eliminate language in the budget that exempts the Department of Corrections from making these payments in accordance with state Code.

VACo Contact: Katie Boyle

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