After a marathon final day of the regular session, we adjourned sine die on March 11th--one day early. We passed the biennium budget that, while very strong on education and economic development, misses the mark on several big opportunities for the people of Virginia. The same could be said of the whole session, which had many ups and downs. Overall, we passed several meaningful bills, but all of the cooperation and progress that came with them were almost negated by some very disappointing social and purely political battles that marred our work and even the character of the General Assembly.
Budget Successes – Overall very strong on education, the budget for the next two years allocates nearly $1 billion for K-12 and $130 million for higher education. Our teachers will receive a 2% pay raise and the increased appropriations helped close FCPS’ budget shortfall by half. A new economic development program, GO Virginia, will bring together local governments, educational institutions, and businesses to spur regional development through grants that benefit projects like the new Inova Center for Personalized Health. It will help our region diversify its economy and create new ventures and markets for Virginia business. It also adds $605.5 million in Virginia's Rainy Day Fund.
Tax Policy Changes - The budget limits accelerated sales tax to retailers, it expands existing R&D tax credits, and increases the cap on an investor tax credit.
Increase in ID/DD Waivers - The budget includes 1,170 additional ID/DD slots and adds 40 emergency reserve slots. It increases services and rates, adds new staff and closes the NOVA Training Center.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - We will be using $4.7 million in federal TANF funds to increase assistance and $4.8 million to provide child support supplemental payments beginning in FY2018.
We also allocated $26 million in federal TANF money to increase funding for nonprofits and workforce development.
Substance Abuse Treatment - There are $11 million to expand Medicaid substance abuse treatment services.
Community Behavioral Mental Health Services - We added $8.2 million to increase funding for community behavioral mental health services, in part using reprogrammed funds.
Strengthening the State’s Forensic Sciences – I sponsored a bill to add a new member to the Forensic Science Board. The board oversees the management of DNA identification and the security of criminal justice information. My bill was initially defeated in committee, but working with the Courts Civil Law Subcommittee Chairman and another colleague who sits on the FSB, I was able to find consensus, amend it, and the new version passed unanimously. It has now been signed into law by Governor McAuliffe. I was proud to work across the aisle to find a compromise to solve the problem and to bring new membership to the Forensic Science Board.
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Expanding Access to Fresh Food – I co-patroned a bill creating a win-win-win policy to provide a tax credit to farmers who donate produce to food banks. This legislation will give our neighbors in need more access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Protecting Public Schools – Thanks to our friends in the Senate, we defeated an onerous constitutional amendment allowing an unelected state bureaucracy to establish charter schools. If the bill had passed, our localities would be left paying for these new charter schools themselves without having a voice in their creation.
Improving our Educational Standards – We passed meaningful SOL reform helping to adjust to the changing nature of our economy and population: computer science will be added to the assessed subjects, alternative testing will be developed for students with disabilities and those whose primary language is not English, and recovery credit will be given to students who retake exams.
Defending LGBTQ+ Rights – Again, thanks to the Senate, we defeated bills that would have prohibited localities from implementing anti-discrimination ordinances.
Compromise on Tolls – The compromise on I-66 expansion and tolling is a good example of cooperation around a controversial issue. Thanks to our vigorous bipartisan negotiations, we will get immediate lane expansion inside the Beltway on I-66. Engineering will begin this year and should be complete by 2019. As you may recall, the original proposal called for tolling for first, doing a study, then considering expansion. It’s a better deal for our residents. We also secured $140 million in this year’s budget to provide an upfront boost to public transit and multimodal transportation in the area. And now, HOV-2 will remain in place until 2020.
Medicaid Expansion Rejected – Gov. McAuliffe worked out a plan with hospitals to cover any funding gap that would come from full Medicaid expansion, that, when combined with federal funding, would have had ZERO impact on our budget. Unfortunately, we will not be expanding Medicaid this year. As a result, the Commonwealth will continue to lose billions of dollars we’ve already paid into the system and nearly a half million Virginians will go without health care simply because of petty politics. Along the same lines, the House and Senate leadership removed a promising long-term contraceptive pilot program using federal TANF funds from the Governor's proposed budget. I fought to keep this program that, in other states, has reduced pregnancies by 40% and teen abortions by 42%.
A Judicial Career & Tradition Ruined – The most outrageous example of petty politics would have to be the removal and rejection of Justice Jane Roush from the Supreme Court of Virginia. Justice Roush of Fairfax was appointed while the General Assembly was out of session by Gov. McAuliffe, serving for the past eleven months. At the very end of the General Assembly session, she was removed in an act of pure vengeance by Republican leadership. Though she was eminently qualified and highly regarded throughout the state’s legal community (even her political detractors agreed with this assessment), she was the first sitting member of the Supreme Court to be removed from her post in one hundred sixteen years.
Weakening Women’s Health – I introduced a commonsense bill to lift insurance coverage ban for abortion procedures in the Federal Health Exchange. This bill would have provided insurance coverage for women, including those who have severe fetal anomalies, and allow them to receive services they desperately need in a most difficult time. While that bill failed to make it out of the subcommittee, the General Assembly passe a bill to defund Planned Parenthood under the guise of not paying for abortion services, even though the current law already prohibits it. What defunding Planned Parenthood would accomplish now would reduce access to primary and preventive care for women and men. And it would result in more unintended pregnancies. The Governor has pledged to veto this legislation. I look forward to helping uphold that veto when we reconvene.
Limiting Fairfax & Loudoun’s Land Use – Despite the fact that the state depends heavily on tax revenues from Northern Virginia from our population growth, the General Assembly passed a bill that would limit how localities can use proffers in residential land development, limiting the flexibility on long-term planning. I worked hard to advocate for Loudoun and Fairfax Counties to carve out protections so that we would not have our hands tied. Our local governments have a long history of working successfully with developers to find flexible ways to address the changing needs of our growing communities. We made progress--excluding our Transit Oriented Development regions and Small Planning Districts in the final version of this bill--but the results this new law will have on our localities still remains to be seen.
Attacks on the LGBTQ+ Community – Despite the aforementioned successes, a harmful “Kim Davis”-style bill passed, allowing clergy or another authorized person to refuse to conduct a marriage if it violates a seriously held religious belief. Please note, that we already have these protections under the law for all houses of worship and clergy. The original version that passed the House would have allowed anyone to discriminate against a person who they disagreed with on moral grounds--specifically those having sex out of marriage and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Gov. McAuliffe will veto this bill.
Taking Environmental Planning Out of the Hands of Experts – Although the decades-old Clean Air Act allows states to implement their own tailor-made plans to improve air quality through smart energy regulation, a bill passed that adds a political hurdle to any plan developed by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. Virginia’s plan will now require approval from the General Assembly. I’m not a scientist, neither are most of my colleagues in the House or Senate. This is not good public policy.
The General Assembly will reconvene on April 20th to consider the Governor’s action on the 773 bills passed this session. He can sign into law, make recommendations to amend, or veto a bill. I expect that he will take action on several of the outstanding controversial bills.
Out in the Community
On Saturday, Senator Jennifer Wexton and I hosted a Town Hall meeting where we reviewed the legislative session. I plan to host a quarterly meeting in the community to discuss issues of interest.
On Tuesday I joined several of my colleagues from the House and Senate before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to celebrate the Westfield High School state football championship.
I had the opportunity to attend the Herndon Police Valor Awards dinner to recognize the Town Police Department and all of their heroic work. We are so fortunate to have strong leadership at the local level.
Happening Around the 86th
For your calendar coming up:
- DUE THIS FRIDAY, March 25th: The National Wildlife Foundation will accept applications for an all-inclusive summer camp scholarship for a child, ages 8-18, and an accompanying adult to attend their Family Nature Summit in New Mexico, July 2 through July 8. Click this link for details.
- On March 26th, the Herndon Easter Egg hunt will take place behind the Municipal Building, starting at 9:30am for 5-7 year olds, 10:15am for 3-4 year olds, and 11am for toddlers up to 2 years old. Click here for more information and to register.
- On March 30th, I will be speaking at the Herndon Rotary Club’s regular meeting to provide an update from the General Assembly.
- On April 2nd, Fairfax County, the Town of Herndon and the Nature Conservancy will be hosting regional cleanups. I will be at the Sully Historic Site starting at 9am. There are still spaces open to register, please join me by clicking here! In Herndon, the Runnymede Park cleanup starts at 8am.
- On April 3rd, The Second Annual Evening Wine Tasting benefitting the Herndon Village Network will take place at the ArtSpace from 6-7:30pm. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org
- On April 9th, ArtSpace Herndon will host a reception from 7-9pm for a new exhibit featuring works from Jorge Luis Bernal and Eric Garner.
- On May 2nd, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will hold a public hearing to help finalize the next 6-year transportation plan based on a data-driven project list (available here). It will place in the Potomac Room of the VDOT NOVA District Office at 4975 Alliance Dr, Fairfax 22030, starting at 6pm.
- On May 11th, the Committee for Dulles will host its second Dulles Matters seminar at the airport from 7:30-11am, highlighting the impact Dulles has on the region and state.
- Friday Night Live will kick off May 6th. Stay tuned for more updates. Follow this link as the schedule is finalized.
To include your community event in my next edition of the Boysko Bulletin, please send your ready-to-publish announcement to email@example.com. No political or for-profit events will be accepted. Thanks for understanding.
I am happy to meet with your group, HOA or organization to listen to your concerns and to foster cooperation in our community. Additionally, if you have a matter that concerns state government, contact my Herndon office at 703-437-0086 or send an email to DelJBoysko@house.virginia.gov. If you want to stop by, the office is on the 2nd floor of the Herndon Old Town Hall, though it's best to make an appointment. If your problem concerns another government level, we can still help you get connected with the appropriate person.