Column by Sen. Robert Hurt
The first full week of the 2010 General Assembly here in Richmond has now concluded. The week began with the Gov. McDonnell’s first State of the Commonwealth address and the ended with committees getting fully underway in reviewing and taking action on individual legislation. In addition, because of the recent special elections of two new senators, Senate committee assignments were completed. My committee assignments have not changed, and I will continue to serve on the Courts of Justice committee, the General Laws committee, and the Rehabilitation and Social Services committees.
I look forward to continuing to working with our new Governor during this Session in promoting economic development here in the Commonwealth and in Southside Virginia, and I am proud to cosponsor of much of the legislation on this subject. In particular, I am proud to serve as the sponsor of legislation which would create a lower job creation threshold of at least 25 jobs for the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit. In addition, I am proud to serve as the sponsor of legislation which would encourage veterans to start small businesses.
In Gov. McDonnell’s State of the Commonwealth address on Monday evening, he acknowledged the unprecedented fiscal challenge facing the Commonwealth and made it clear that the $4 billion revenue shortfall will require spending reductions, consolidations, and the elimination of state agencies. The governor also made it clear that the Commonwealth will balance its budget without raising taxes.
He went on to emphasize that his number one priority is job creation with a particular focus on rural regions of the state, and he laid out his vision for steering the state through these difficult times through innovation and investments in economic development strategy. The governor also highlighted the importance of tourism, the film industry, and the energy sector in the long-term plan for Virginia prosperity.
Gov. McDonnell pointed to several executive actions that his administration will be taking to promote job growth. These actions include the establishment of the Governor’s Economic Development and Job Creation Commission; the appointment of a new deputy secretary of Commerce and Trade that will focus solely on rural economic development; and the directive that the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and other licensing agencies ensure that licensing processes and approvals be completed within 48 hours.
With respect to his legislative agenda, Gov. McDonnell laid out his specific legislative proposals to promote job growth here in the Commonwealth. He has proposed to increase the Governor’s Opportunity Fund by $5 million and to allocate an additional $5 million for an industrial mega-site fund. In addition, the governor has proposed a $1,000 per job tax credit for businesses creating at least 50 jobs – however, in those areas experiencing higher than average unemployment, the governor has proposed this tax credit for businesses creating at least 25 jobs. Finally, the governor has proposed legislation that would waive administrative and licensing fees for veterans starting a small business.
Once again, I am looking forward to working with Gov. McDonnell and our local legislative delegation – Del. Danny Marshall, Del. Don Merricks and Del. Charles Poindexter – to promote economic development in Southside Virginia and across the Commonwealth.