august 22, 2016 newsletter

Last Monday the Governor McAuliffe held a meeting with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates about the state’s economic and revenue outlook. The governor’s advisory council, including business leaders from across the state, gave its collective view of the economic outlook for the new forecast produced by the state with the Joint Advisory Board of Economists.

The $266.3 million shortfall in the last fiscal year triggered a mandatory revenue reforecast when it exceeded 1 percent of those revenues. This shortfall has already postponed raises that had been scheduled December 1 for state employees, college faculty, teachers and state-supported local employees. Those increases, ranging from 2 to 3 percent, were lost when the shortfall was confirmed at 1.8 percent of major state revenues — income, sales, and corporate tax collections.

The Governor prepares to submit revised revenue forecasts to support budgeted spending to the General Assembly’s money committees on August 26.

The state’s biggest challenge has been bridging the disconnection between sluggish payroll tax collections and the state’s unemployment rate, which has dropped to 3.7 percent. The answer is unsettling to lawmakers and the governor.

Obviously, state revenues never stand still. Estimates for tax payments by individuals and businesses can vary. Refunds claimed by Virginia taxpayers vary widely as well. Fees that accrue to the state rise and fall with economic conditions.

A concerning trend, state leaders recognize, is that Virginia is trading high-paying, full-time jobs for more low-paying, part-time jobs that generate less taxable income and less tax revenue. That’s a separate challenge, but one that directly impacts the state’s coffers.

Virginia remains one of the nation’s wealthiest states, benefiting from its proximity to the nation’s capital. It has a current budget of about $105 billion, so every $100 million in shortfall or surplus represents 1/1,000th of the budget. That might not sound like much, and it’s unfortunate that raises for teachers and state workers would depend on a few thousandths of the state budget, But that shows how imperative it is to have reliable revenue estimates, or a system that’s designed to better accommodate these fluctuations.

This week, Nelson County will be host to the 2016 Lockn Festival. Motorists should be aware of possible congestion and changes in traffic pattern on US 29 and side roads near Oak Ridge Estate in Lovingston. The highest volumes of traffic on Route 29 are expected to occur during the overnight hours of Wednesday through early Thursday evening, late afternoon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and, during the departure period Sunday afternoon into midday Monday.  

On Wednesday evening, contractors working for the Lockn’ Music Festival in collaboration with the Virginia State Police and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin setting up traffic control south of the Lovingston area. Due to the possibility of increased congestion, several changes in traffic pattern are planned.

Message boards, other traffic control devices and a Traffic Hazard Advisory Radio will be used to alert motorists to these changes in traffic pattern and any major congestion issues. A Safety Service Patrol unit will also be available during peak traffic periods to assist with any incidents that may occur.   

For additional up-to-date information throughout the event, please call 511 or visit www.511Virginia.org, follow VDOT on Twitter @VaDOTLynchburg, or contact VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-367-7623 (800-FOR-ROAD). 

If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help you with, please contact us at (434) 821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov. You can also keep up with me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.

 

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