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Richmond Update from Delegate Barbara Comstock
Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dear Friends,

I hope you are staying warm and safe inside during this historic storm. Speaking of history - today, February 6, is President Ronald Reagan's Birthday. He would have been 99 years old today. Thank you President Reagan for your legacy of keeping the American Dream alive. Happy Birthday to the Gipper!

As we near the midpoint of the 2010 General Assembly Session in Richmond, I wanted to update you on some of the bipartisan efforts that are advancing in the House of Delegates in the areas of jobs and the economy, transportation, and education.

Oil and Gas Exploration In Virginia Has Bipartisan Support
This week, the House passed H.B. 787, on a bipartisan vote of 69-28, in order to allow efforts to proceed for oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production 50 miles or more off Virginia's coast. I voted "yes." This bill will help Virginia contribute to energy independence for the United States while creating jobs for Virginians. While we also need federal action to move forward, Governor McDonnell, our two Senators (Mark Warner and Jim Webb), as well as the majority of our congressional delegation, have all called upon the Administration to allow Virginia to move forward on this important jobs and energy front.

Distribution Of Revenues From Offshore Drilling To Transportation
Related to this bill is H.B. 756, a bill I have co-patroned, which was debated on the House floor this week and is expected to receive a final vote next week. H.B. 756, as recently amended, incorporated my own offshore drilling bill (H.B. 900) and would require 80 percent of the revenues and royalties from drilling be directed to our transportation needs (70% directed to the Transportation Trust Fund; while an additional 10% of the royalties would go to the localities of the Commonwealth for improvements to infrastructure and transportation) and 20% would go the research and development for renewable energy. Again, this will not only help with energy independence, but also it will provide much needed new dedicated revenue to our transportation needs. This bill is one of the Governor's priority measures, and a bill I have strongly advocated as a jobs, transportation and energy independence measure. I look forward to voting "yes" on H.B 756.

Bipartisan Objection To The Unfair Freeze On The Funding Formula (LCI) For Schools
This week I also signed a bipartisan letter to Governor McDonnell, (see letter posted on my website: www.delegatecomstock.com) along with 35 other Northern Virginia members of the Virginia House and Senate, opposing Governor Kaine's budget proposal from December which froze the "local composite index" education funding formula that is used to allocate K-12 education funds throughout Virginia. Governor Kaine's proposal from December, if kept in place, would have the effect of shortchanging Fairfax County schools by about $61 million. All members of the Northern Virginia delegation also support various budget amendments to correct this inequity. In addition to the parents, teachers and students who have been very active on this issue, a large coalition of Northern Virginia businesses, including the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Technology Council, have joined us in opposition to this unprecedented and unf air freeze on the education funding formula. This is not only an education issue, but an important economic issue for our area.

More Dollars To Our Classrooms And Our Teachers
Another measure I advocated - dedicating 65% of our school budget to the classroom (i.e. to teachers, books, computers, etc.) - was passed by the House of Delegates this week by a vote of 63-35 (H.B. 76 incorporated my bill H.B. 898). The bill, as amended, now requires a report to the Board of Education on how each school district allocates resources. Any school board that spends less than 65 percent of its operating budget on instructional spending would need to present a plan to increase such expenditures for the following year. Given that we have a $2.3 billion dollar school budget in Fairfax, even small shifts to the classroom can mean millions of dollars better utilized by our teachers on the frontlines in classrooms. This bill also would provide parents with more tools and information on how their school budgets are being spent and will help them evaluate the best allocations of resources as they face tough budget challenges.

Jobs Bills And Tax Incentives Upcoming
In the coming week there will be numerous economic and jobs bills that will be coming before us, in committee and on the floor, that will help us in tackling our number one priority of keeping Virginia's economy on the move and at the top. I will update you on what we hope will be positive actions on these job and tax incentive measures next week.

Have You Completed Your Constituent Questionnaire?
Finally, I want to express my thanks to the many people who have completed the constituent questionnaire. Your responses have been very helpful. If you have not yet responded, you may still do so on-line by clicking here.

Again, always feel free to keep in touch with us on these or other issues such as our present snowstorm. Stay safe and warm this weekend.

Barbara Comstock

Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.