The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) held its first meeting for 2019 on May 13 and adopted a plan for the studies and reports its staff will complete this year. In addition to JLARC’s ongoing oversight of the Virginia Retirement System, the Virginia529 college savings plan, and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, JLARC will be conducting several major studies this year. Of particular interest to localities are the following:
- Workers’ compensation: JLARC staff had been directed in December 2018 to undertake a review of the state workers’ compensation system, to include examining the fairness of the current processes for resolving claims. During the 2019 General Assembly, several bills were considered that would add certain cancers, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, to the list of diseases that are presumed to have been contracted as a result of employment. JLARC has been assigned to review these bills, two of which (both dealing with certain cancers) must be re-enacted in 2020 to take effect. VACo encouraged the General Assembly to allow JLARC to complete its study of this issue before enacting any changes to the Workers’ Compensation system and has since met with JLARC staff. JLARC will report on its review in December 2019.
- Implementation of STEP-VA: JLARC staff will report in June on the implementation of STEP-VA, which seeks to ensure that all Community Services Boards (CSBs) offer a standard array of services statewide. Full implementation is scheduled to be complete by July 1, 2021. JLARC will evaluate implementation of the first two “steps” (same-day access to mental health screening and primary care screening and monitoring) and planning for the implementation of the remaining services.
- CSB funding allocation: Also scheduled for a June briefing, this study will catalog existing funding sources for CSBs and suggest potential alternative funding models.
- Medicaid expansion: Staff will be reporting on this issue throughout the fall and will be reviewing issues surrounding eligibility determination, implementation of the COMPASS waiver (which includes work requirements, cost-sharing mechanisms, and other provisions), and a comparison of enrollment and spending relative to projections.
- Office of the State Inspector General: JLARC staff are scheduled to report in September on this study, which will review how this Office is performing and whether its role in oversight of local jails should be expanded.
- Gaming: JLARC staff will be reviewing the regulatory structures governing gaming in other states and estimating the potential effects of legalized gaming in Virginia on state and local revenues as well as other economic effects.
Other studies to be conducted in 2019 include reviews of VITA’s new service delivery model, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. As part of JLARC’s ongoing review of economic development incentives, staff will be briefing the Commission in June on the effectiveness of incentives for data centers and manufacturers. In addition, JLARC’s study topic selection subcommittee has approved several studies that are not scheduled for 2019 but expected to commence in the near future, including a review of the state’s special education system, which is planned to include an examination of private placements funded through the Children’s Services Act. VACo has encouraged JLARC to explore as a part of this study how local school divisions’ capacity to serve children with high-level needs can be enhanced.
The Auditor of Public Accounts, Martha S. Mavredes, presented an overview of revisions to the local fiscal distress monitoring system that was developed in 2017 and subsequently modified to address some of local governments’ concerns about presenting a more holistic picture of local financial management. The APA’s office is concluding follow-up conversations with those localities that were identified in the most recent run of the revised fiscal distress model as potentially needing state assistance, and the APA is planning to issue a report on the revised model and its application later this year. In addition, the APA reported on findings from her office’s review of the state Department of Fire Programs, which include concerns about state oversight of funding distributed to localities. Commission members briefly discussed how the use of these funds might be examined, including the possibility of requiring a review of these funds as part of localities’ annual audits; it is unclear to what degree this additional requirement would add to localities’ costs for the annual audit.