2018 Virginia General Assembly
Monday, January 22, 2018
House Appropriations Chairman Delegate Chris Jones (R76th)
Meets with Governor Northam to Discuss Budget
Delegate Jones calling the budget "the most important thing we do" promised a "non-partisan" spending document in a recent speech on the floor of the House of Delegates.
Delegate Jones emerged from a morning meeting with the Governor and characterized the discussion as "a very productive and good meeting." The Delegate referenced his working relationship with Governor Northam and positive outcomes on various issues the two had worked together on.
The budget process in the House of Delegates will include a series of regional meetings with legislators.
Delegate Jones outlined broad goals for the budget including; increasing Virginia Lottery revenue shares for K-12 education; pay increases for state employees and committing two percent of the general fund budget for cash reserves.
The biggest policy difference in the outgoing Governor's budget and the state legislature is in the area of Medicaid expansion. The former Governor estimated savings of $421 million from accepting more than $3.2 billion in federal funds to expand Medicaid. Governor McAuliffe also proposed a new tax on hospital's profits to pay the Commonwealth's $306 million dollar share of the cost.
Federal Tax Law May Net Positive Results for the State of Virginia
Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne told members of the General Assembly that the new federal tax structures are positive to the Commonwealth in terms of tax collections.
The state has hired an outside consultant to determine the specific impacts. Results should be available in approximately 60 days.
The increase in the standard deduction from $12,000 for an individual and $24,000 for a married couple filing together likely will translate into more Virginians taking the standard deduction. This, in turn, will mean that the taxpayer will be required to also take the state's standard deduction which remains at $3,000 and $6,000 respectfully. Paying more in state taxes may produce a net savings for the overall tax bill.
Chamber Supports Freight Rail
The Hampton Roads Chamber recently signed on to a letter urging Washington policy makers to oppose new regulations on freight rail under consideration by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board. These new regulations would undermine the ability of railroads to reinvest capital in the rail network.
Studies have pointed out the massive impact of freight-rail generating $274 billion annually in economic activity and supporting 1.5 million jobs nationwide. Since 1980, railroads have invested over $630 billion on maintaining and upgrading 140,000 track miles across the country.
New Poll Supports Medicaid Expansion in Virginia
A new poll that was sponsored by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association found that 83 percent of Virginians are in favor of expanding Medicaid. 86 percent of Hampton Roads residents were supportive. 600 likely voters were interviewed for the study and the polling has a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent. Republicans were the largest group not in favor at 27 percent. Hospital representatives including Mike Gentry, COO of Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, spoke at the press conference in Richmond.
Passenger Rail Ridership Increases
IN FY17, 1,582,357 trips were taken on all Amtrak trains in Virginia. Virginia's regional trains have built a strong fiscal record operating four of the top six financially performing regional corridors (750 miles or less) in the U.S. Overall, our Commonwealth regional train network operated in the black making a profit of $4.6 cents per seat mile in FY17.