The 2012 General Assembly session continued in a special session into April, ultimately producing a two-year $85 billion budget for the Commonwealth.
Regarding transportation, the budget funds $28.7 million to initially capitalize the Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund; $28.7 million to the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank; and $100 million to delay tolls on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels until 2014.
Hospitality and tourism received an increase of $1 million for general advertising. Regional marketing grants increased by $275,000 each year.
Education received an additional $212 million in direct aid to K-12 education. Public colleges and universities received an increase of $211 million.
Economic development incentives were funded as follows:
$11.8 million for Governors Opportunity Fund
$7.5 million for Oceana BRAC fund
$5 million for Advance Shipbuilding Training
$5 million for Major Eligible Employers
The Hampton Roads Chamber lobbied for a number of bills, including successfully defeating measures that changed the current Labor Day school start law.
The business community also supported legislation that requires all companies to collect sales tax. This creates a “level playing field” for retail businesses in the Commonwealth.
Also successfully supported, were significant Port of Virginia legislation which makes our region’s facilities more attractive to ships and companies using the expanded Panama Canal.
Much emphasis was also placed on measures that defined “lost access” and “lost profits” in the eminent domain area.
While high profile “social” issues may have defined the 2012 session, a number of key “wins” for the business community will produce a significant return on investment in the coming months.
In June, a comprehensive Results Report for the 2012 Virginia General Assembly session will be available on the Chamber’s website (www.HamptonRoadsChamber.com).