Public Comments for 02/10/2021 Appropriations
SB1134 - Refunding bonds; alters the principal and interest requirements.
Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to allow debt service relief for institutions of higher education by restructuring the debt service on all or a portion of the Commonwealth’s outstanding 9(c) debt. This relief would be accomplished by deferring up to the next two principal payments (June 1, 2021 and June 1, 2022) on these bonds. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance
SB1145 - Commonwealth of Virginia Higher Educational Institutions Bond Act of 2021; created.
Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance $34,136,000 plus financing costs for revenue-producing capital projects at institutions of Higher Education pursuant to Article X, Section 9(c) of the Constitution of Virginia. This amount represents supplements to two existing projects at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The Treasury Board would be authorized to provide for the sale of bonds, to borrow money in anticipation of the issuance of the bonds, to provide for the pledge of the net revenues of the capital projects and the full faith, credit and taxing power of the Commonwealth for the payment of the bonds and to provide that the interest Income on the bonds will be exempt from all taxation by the Commonwealth. This bill contains an emergency clause, allowing the act to be in force from its passage, which will allow the institutions to access Treasury loans or other borrowing prior to July 1. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance
SB1155 - Capital outlay plan; repeals existing six-year capital outlay for projects to be funded.
Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to update the six year capital outlay plan. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance
HB1800 - Budget Bill.
Please vote no on Amendment 2, Item 57. 250,000 dollars should not be allocated to an investigation if most of it is to be FOIA exempt. The investigation's shield of secrecy goes against the very reason it was demanded of in the first place. There is no transparency in this amendment and an bipartisan alternative should be sent to the Governor's Office as soon as possible. Please vote no on Amendment 4, Item 128. 598,403 dollars should not be given to the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity for new positions until it has been established that SWaM business's are being vetted properly. It has come to my attention that certain certified small businesses are earning more than 10 million dollars a year from State and Local purchase orders alone. Some of these business's have deflated their number of employees in order to qualify as "small" while simultaneously listing more for lucrative PPP loans. When several multi-million dollar, large regional companies twist the rules and take up the bulk of SWaM orders, it defeats the purpose of the SBSD and the SWaM process. There's a lot of fraud in this program and pumping up a broken system may make it much worse. The department needs to be fixed immediately before increasing it for the sake of executive order 35.
Item 321 #2h, was not adopted into our Commonwealth’s proposed 2021-2022 budget. Last week, it was announced in The Richmond Times-Dispatch that “Gov. Ralph Northam has identified an additional $730.2 million in state revenues that General Assembly budget negotiators can use.” It is my hope that with this fresh perspective on our Commonwealth’s fiscal health, we can now adopt HB1800 | Item 321 #2h into our Commonwealth’s 2021-2022 budget, and here’s why – Virginia has acknowledged Substance Use Disorder (SUD) as being of “epidemic” proportions for quite some time. This data, from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) shows a non-alcohol overdose incident response level of 750 in January of 2017. In December of 2020, this is now a little over a 1,000, representing a 33% increase. Whatever, and however our Commonwealth is addressing SUD is quite simply not effective. Virginia’s General Assembly has legislatively sanctioned the Virginia Association of Recovery Residences (VARR) as the credentialing agency for certifying recovery residences. All VARR members meet or exceed federally recognized standards which have evolved since initially drafted and implemented in 2011. Housing is a critical foundational component in the proven and sustainable recovery hierarchy illustrated above, and can be provided in a VARR certified recovery centric environment for only $30/day. Food and clothing are readily available through other community and social service providers. Length of engagement is an evidence based lived experience indicator for positive recovery outcomes, and $10 million would support 1800 recovery bed six month stays. Current Virginia data illustrates an average of over 2000 monthly overdose response incidents. Immediate access to these newly funded beds would significantly impact the current relapse pattern the VDH OEMS data displays. Now firmly engaged with others in recovery, an individual strengthens the connections leading to sustained SUD recovery, benefitting, rather than burdening, their community, while regaining relationships to loved ones. This innovative “rubber meets the road” direct approach to immediate SUD recovery services access vs. current methods of prolonged and virtual assessments will also siphon consumers from needing taxpayer funded first responders, hospital emergency departments encounters and criminal justice system engagements. An arrest costs the Commonwealth approximately $10,000.00 administratively, which does not include “correctional” costs, evidence testing laboratory expenditures, etc, etc. An emergency room admission costs taxpayers approximately $5,000.00, which does not include EMS dispatch and first responder expenses. SUD has been recognized for far too long as being of epidemic proportions. It affects all, and what the recovery community firmly believes are common sense solutions have been ignored. Data doesn’t lie, and the time is now to employ a new tactic and Save Lives!
I urge support for relief for residential summer camps. My children benefitted from years of experience in their environment, encouraging socialization skills , teamwork , self-reliance and heathy exercise. This industry is suffering under current conditions and is worthy of our support
Virginia Loggers Association supports all budget requests for the Virginia Department of Forestry. The VDOF is a small agency relative to its vast responsibilities across the Commonwealth. VLA fully supports all additional funding to the VDOF to help them support the private landowners requiring the best possible scientifically - based management information on Virginia's renewal, natural forest resources. Healthy forests also provide many benefits to our environment and citizens by creating clean air and water, and improved social equity for all citizens. VLA supports providing the best educated personnel qualified to ensure healthy hardwoods and softwoods. Part of the 2021 budget amendments address important hardwood management and incentives to ensure future hardwood forests are robust. VLA members and non-member forest harvesters benefit by including cost share funding in the VDOF budget for BMP and bridges on forests harvests. Forest harvesters are responsible for ensuring streams and water ways remain clear and free of sedimentation during the harvest. Bridges are expensive and important to forest harvesters to cross stream beds and imperative to ensure clean water. Without the funding to cost share bridges and BMPs, forest harvesters would not be able to carry out the quality best management practices on forest harvesting. Forest harvesters need this money which is used on private forest landowners' property and helps keep their forests healthy. VDOF is very small and has lost many personnel over the years. VLA recommends building the VDOF budget back to a robust level as private landowners need an unbiased source for forest management advice. Thank you.