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Legislative Agenda Is Successful At Session Midpoint
Friday, February 19, 2010

Dear Friends,

Session HighlightsThis week we reached the midway mark in the 2010 Legislative Session, also known as "crossover" and our legislative agenda has so far been very successful. I wanted to give you an overview of where we stand at mid-session on some key issues:


I have linked here for you a copy of a recent press release which provides details and highlights of a number of our advances on our key agenda items on jobs, transportation, education and other core services. I am pleased to report that the Governor and a bipartisan majority of the House of Delegates have made job creation our #1 priority and our progress in the legislature reflects that priority. Of course transportation and education are very much intertwined with our job environment. Please take a look at the press release to see the broad overview of the "Jobs and Opportunity" agenda that is developing at midsession with the passage of such measures as a bill to exempt new businesses from capital gains taxes, a bill providing that any royalties from offshore drilling are dedicated to transportation (80%), a bill to promote small business investment in Virginia, and bills providing tax credits for green jobs, movie production and our wine industry, among other job enhancing measures.

LCI Education Funding Formula Fix

I also am pleased to report on the progress on the Local Composite Index (LCI) Education funding formula issue. As you may know, Governor Kaine had proposed an unprecedented and arbitrary freeze of the LCI which is used to determine our share of state education funds and is recalculated and updated every two years. To reverse decades of practice was simply bad public policy, fundamentally unfair, and would have cost Fairfax County, alone, over $60 million in order to save the state $29 million.

The Northern Virginia delegation was united in our opposition to this misguided proposal. This was a top priority issue that occupied many of us in the first weeks of the legislature. We all worked with our PTAs, parents, and local business community to reverse this action. Our high quality schools are integral to attracting top businesses. We also wrote a joint a letter to Governor McDonnell urging him to back the move to unfreeze the LCI and supported budget amendments to undo this proposal. I personally spoke with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, members of his Cabinet, and staff about this issue, as I know many of my constituents did.

As you may know by now, our voices were heard. Governor McDonnell reversed this proposal saying, "The Local Composite Index must be applied to all localities, at all times, in the same objective and fair manner by which it has always been utilized." The Republican House leadership also has embraced Governor McDonnell's decision. While we still will have many budget challenges, and the actual index itself has historically been disadvantageous for Northern Virginia, we at least have a united front in removing the LCI freeze from the budget.

Ongoing Budget Challenges

In the coming weeks, we face an historic budget shortfall in the Commonwealth. The proposed budget introduced by Governor Kaine unfortunately only addressed half of the $4 billion shortfall. Governor Kaine's plan to close the remaining $2 billion through massive new tax increases in the middle of a recession was already unanimously rejected (97-0) by the House of Delegates. We will be working in the coming weeks to identify the spending reductions that will enable us to balance the budget, while maintaining core services and respecting the difficulties facing our hard working taxpayers. Many of these cuts will not be easy, and most of them will require sacrifice, but we will continue to work together to make those tough decisions today so that the Commonwealth will be in a stronger position as the economy recovers.

By focusing on job growth and getting our economy moving again and not further burdening our stretched businesses and families, Virginia can continue to be better positioned to weather the tough economic times we are facing.

Unprecedented Snowstorms

Finally, I wanted to thank so many of you who reached out to us throughout the recent unprecedented snowstorms in our area. Your updates and information were helpful in helping us inform VDOT, Dominion and other government officials about the situation on the ground throughout the storms. It was also encouraging to hear of all of the help that neighbors were providing neighbors through the difficulties. I have spoken with our local Dranesville Supervisor, John Foust, and we plan on scheduling an "After Action" town hall meeting to bring together everybody to further address the issues that arose during the storms.

Please feel free to contact me whenever you have concerns. Also sign up online for our updates on the website (www.delegatecomstock.com) and keep in touch with us and let us know of concerns you have, events you want to let us know about, or other matters of interest.


Barbara Comstock

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.