The 2017 General Assembly adjourned sine die Saturday, completing its work on time. This year, the House of Delegates worked tirelessly to strengthen Virginia’s economy to help middle class families, improve our education system so all children have the opportunity to succeed, and chart a responsible fiscal course for the future. We continue to offer a positive governing vision for our Commonwealth.
To help strengthen Virginia’s economy, the House of Delegates advanced several major pieces of legislation aimed at fostering private-sector economic growth, promoting a positive, pro-business climate, and protecting small businesses through regulatory reform. Republicans in the House of Delegates are also leading the effort to review Virginia’s economic development spending to ensure that we are maximizing the effectiveness of your tax dollars.
Improving our education system is a top priority for the House of Delegates. We remain committed to supporting our world-class public education system. That is why a 2% teacher pay raise was a priority in this year’s budget.
We also recognize there is room for innovation is the classroom so all students can learn in a way that best fits their needs. The House passed legislation to create Education Savings Accounts for parents and took steps to finalize the establishment of Virginia’s virtual school. This legislation, combined with our investments in public schools, will help make sure all children have the opportunity to succeed.
One of the most important tasks of the General Assembly is crafting the two year state budget. I am happy to report that the House of Delegates passed a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced amended budget that invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources.
Here are the highlights of the amended 2016-2018 state budget: The budget does not contain any tax or fee increases on hardworking Virginians. A three percent salary increase for state employees is included. We are investing over $18 million in new funding for K-12, more than Governor McAuliffe proposed. Our funding also gives local school divisions added flexibility to spend the money as best fits them. We’ve secured $32 million for a 2% teacher pay raise, with no local match required, effective February 2018.We are providing over $20 million in new funding for higher education to hold down tuition costs for Virginia families. We are making strategic investments in economic development, but adding additional oversight to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. The budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Instead, we continue to build on our work to strengthen the healthcare safety net.
As we enter the next phase of the legislative calendar, there are a few issues that the Governor will be reviewing in advance of the reconvened session, on April 5th, 2017. The state budget, budget actions and hundreds of bills that were passed during session will be among those issues.
It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office. I will be spending the coming weeks meeting and visiting with various groups, businesses and constituents giving updates on the 2017 session. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss