The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die without final consideration of two remaining school construction financing bills. As previously reported, several pieces of legislation seeking to address K-12 school construction and maintenance needs were making their way through the General Assembly.
SB 1106 (Stanley) would create the Public School Assistance Fund and Program to be administered by the Department of Education for the purpose of providing grants to school boards to be used solely for the purpose of repairing or replacing the roofs, HVAC, electrical or plumbing systems of public elementary and secondary school buildings in the local school division. The bill was left in the House Appropriations Committee, meeting a similar fate to HB 2093 (O’Quinn). VACo staff has spoken in support of this initiative as it represented progress on this issue, even though the Fund proposed by the legislation did not have a dedicated source of funding.
SB 1109 (Stanley) would provide for a statewide referendum in November 2022 on the question of whether the General Assembly shall issue state general obligation bonds in the amount of $3 billion for the purpose of K-12 school building construction, repair, or other capital projects related to the modernization of school facilities. The results would be advisory only and are intended to demonstrate the preference of Virginia citizens on the issuance of such bonds. The bill was also left in the House Appropriations Committee without a final vote.
In the General Assembly’s budget compromise, $20.1 million General Funds (GF) in FY 2021 and $9.9 million GF in FY 2022 are provided to ensure 40 percent of Lottery Proceeds are dedicated to Infrastructure and Operations Per Pupil Payments, formerly known as Supplemental Lottery Per Pupil Allocations. Though helpful and appreciated, given the estimated total need for school modernization across the Commonwealth, this represents a small fraction of the funding needed to successfully address this issue.
VACo will continue to advocate on this issue and encourages frank conversations with legislators on the need for either additional state support and/or local revenue raising authority for county governments to provide a quality physical learning environment for children across Virginia.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett