Assembly balanced budget without raising taxes
Published 5:11 am Saturday, March 2, 2019
The 2019 General Assembly session is officially over! It has been busy two months, but I am proud of the work I, along with my colleagues in the House of Delegates, were able to accomplish. Despite the distractions taking place elsewhere on Capitol Square, the General Assembly was laser-focused on getting our job done in a timely and responsible manner. I look forward to returning home to the district and meeting with constituent groups to share our many successes.
Chaos versus Results
The 2019 General Assembly Session produced a stark contrast for Virginia. The controversies of the Democratic statewide office holders have led to chaos and embarrassment for our state. On the other hand, the Republican-led General Assembly has delivered leadership and results on the issues that matter most.
We were not distracted by the Democratic scandals that rocked the Commonwealth this year. And, since it appears that all three statewide elected officials intend to stay in office despite bipartisan calls for their resignation, it is more important than ever to make sure that the Republican-led General Assembly can be a check and balance on the governor, his party and their new agenda.
2019 State Budget
We balanced the budget, without raising taxes, unwinding over $1 billion in new spending proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam and the Democrats.
The budget includes no tax or fee increases.
We have included funding for a five percent teacher pay raise and $85.7 million in new funding for K-12 education, including approximately $12 million in funding for school resource officers, infrastructure, and other initiatives designed to keep our students safe in schools.
In the higher education field, the budget takes a huge step on higher education affordability. We included $57 million to freeze tuition at our colleges and universities, and increased funding for financial aid by $16 million. Virginia has the nation’s best higher education system, but we must continually strive to ensure the it is affordable and accessible.
Finally, the budget includes longstanding language that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions.
You can view the full budget by visiting budget.lis.virginia.gov.
Several of the bills I wrote and was co-patron of have already been signed into law or are now headed to the governor’s desk for his approval. The Virginia Constitution gives the Governor three options; he may either sign a bill into law, veto the bill, or send it back to the General Assembly with amendments.
Much of my work this session included bills to reduce the tax burden on Virginians, improve the lives of military service members and veterans, and grow agritourism in our communities.
In December 2018, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which provides oversight for the General Assembly, released a devastating report on Virginia’s foster care system. We have one of the worst rates in the nation of helping kids to find permanency before they “age out” of the foster care system.
This year, I started the first-ever Foster Care Caucus, which is a non-partisan group of legislators who are working towards providing bold, innovative solutions to Virginia’s foster care woes. I was proud to introduce and support several bills that seek to give children in foster care a fighting chance at obtaining permanency and obtaining normalcy.
A number of my House colleagues announced their retirement from the floor this week: Del. Dickie Bell of Staunton, Del. Gordon Helsel of Poquoson, Del. David Toscano of Charlottesville and Del. Riley Ingram of Hopewell. I’ve enjoyed working with each of them during their time in the legislature on a wide range of issues and wish them all the best in their retirement.
Now that session is over, I look forward to speaking with all of you, sharing our successes from this year, but also discussing areas where we still need to improve for next year.
I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 239-1213. You can also follow our legislative and campaign activities on our social media pages Facebook or twitter.
EMILY BREWER is the Republican delegate for the 64th District in Virginia.