House releases conservative budget
General Assembly Report by Rob Bell
With the worsening budget numbers, the House of Delegates released its biennial budget. Unlike the governor’s budget, the House budget does not cut $220 million in school construction and lottery money that was going to local schools. These cuts would have cost my four local school divisions over $3 million.
The House budget does include a pay raise for teachers in the first year, rather than simply promising a pay raise for the second year. It also draws less money from Virginia’s Rainy Day Fund.
The House budget is able to do these things because it contains almost no new programs or spending. Gov. Kaine proposed more than $300 million in new programs and construction; the House budget redirects these monies to core governmental responsibilities like education and higher education. For example, the governor’s budget includes $200 million for a new Executive Office Building; this was removed from the House budget.
I believe that in tough times, we need to make tough choices. Projects like a new Executive Office Buildings can wait – if they should be done at all.
School Safety Bills Pass
On Thursday, two of my school safety bills passed the Senate Education Committee. The first (HB 1242) would require additional background checks before a teacher is hired. The second (HB 1005) would require a public university to notify a parent of a child who had a mental illness so severe that he was in the near future going to harm himself or another person.
I am hopeful that both of these bills will pass the Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Kaine.
If you are interested in these or any other bills, they can be found at http://legis.state.va.us.
I can be reached at the General Assembly Building, Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Va. 23218 – 804.698.1058. [email protected].
Rob Bell represents the 58th House District in the Virginia General Assembly.