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Phone: 540-576-2600
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2008 Session Report
3-14-08 END OF SESSION REPORT by Delegate Charles Poindexter

The scheduled March 8 end of the General Assembly Session rolled into an extended session to complete action on the budget for 2009-2010. While we’re in session, many of us also want to make a fix to HB3202 (last year’s transportation bill), agree on a bond package for college, park, and mental health facilities, and make the annual appointments of judges.

First, the budget: Six “conferees” from each the House and Senate and in conjunction with the governor have been working to come to final agreement on the revenue projections to be used to do the budget and, since Virginia budgets for two years, to determine the exact spending plans for the 2009-2010 biennium. We now have agreement on the baseline revenue numbers to be used, i.e., how much we best estimate will be available for 2009 and 2010.

Thus, negotiations for the last week have been focused on agreeing how the available funds will be apportioned among state needs. The House has insisted on limiting withdrawal from the Rainy Day fund since we don’t know where our economy is headed during the next 2 years. We have opposed shifting transportation funding to non-transportation uses, supported improving the mental health system, and proposed more education funding in 2009-2010 than either the Senate or governor proposed. The House has also opposed tax, tuition, and fee increases, especially to fund new programs that will result in huge expenditures by the taxpaying citizens in future years.

As I write this, it appears that the spending negotiations are complete except in the area of public safety. Currently, the Senate is insisting on funding a jail diversion//prison re-entry program and drug courts while delaying funding to open the 2 new regional jails ready to open this year. They are also proposing to delete funding for the so-called Alicia’s Law, which would allow an Internet crimes task force to fight online child predators. The House on the other hand prefers to open these jails, fund Alicia’s Law, and provide as many mental health waivers as possible for our intellectually impaired citizens. I’m hopeful that after being given the past 2 days to reconsider, we can move forward with these House proposals since public safety and health considerations rank higher than considerations for those who do not obey our laws or practice self-abusive lifestyles.

Simple technical corrections/language are available to fix the Supreme Court’s invalidated Northern Virginia component of last year’s Transportation bill HB3202. I’m hopeful the Senate and governor will be agreeable to making this change while we’re in session, instead of precipitating another multi-year statewide controversy for a huge statewide gas tax increase that is inadvisable in current economic conditions. Indeed, Northern Virginia loses a million dollars a day for every day this readily available fix is not made to HB3202. They could be using those dollars to build or maintain roads or other methods of transportation.

As regards judicial appointments, we should settle these now as well, since there is a Constitutional process in place involving the House/Senate/Governor to make these appointments. Otherwise, the governor will make off-session temporary appointments without legislature oversight, which would only result in heightened controversy next year. Hopefully the Senate will provide their recommended actions to the House so that we can deal with that issue while we remain in session.

Finally, we need to agree on a capital outlay bond bill to finance colleges, parks, and mental health facilities so that construction could begin immediately on many of these sorely needed facilities. The Senate wants about 1.8 billion dollars while the House is proposing 1.3 billion, which would start the projects already in the pipeline and provide funding for planning for future projects. The Senate bill includes projects that cannot be started near-term.

Please continue calling and sending letters and emails to keep me posted on your views on these and other matters. I anticipate finishing up here in Richmond this week and having our new 9th District office open on 17 March. We are located on Route 40 East in Office Suite B of the Storage City facility in Glade Hill. Phone 540-576-2600. Email Mail PO Box 117, Glade Hill VA 24092. We’ll be happy to see you should you happen to stop by.

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Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library
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Ronald Reagan
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