By. Brent Wilson, Field Officer
As a part of their mission, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) has a Legislative Liaison who represents the interests and positions of the region’s localities before the state legislature and other state policymakers. Much of this effort occurs at the General Assembly during January-March of each year as well as, during the off season, attending legislative study committee meetings and other meetings of interest to local governments.
David Blount serves as the TJPDC Legislative Liaison (serving Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and the City of Charlottesville). In this role, he annually prepares and presents the TJPDC legislative agenda proposal to local elected officials and requests their input and in time their endorsement. Tuesday night it was Greene County Board of Supervisors opportunity for review.
Surveys have been collected from all the counties and Charlottesville to help develop the legislative priorities for 2017. Blount plans on getting information in real time as opposed to reporting at the end of the process. He also wanted to review the 2016 legislative plan since there are two new Supervisors on the board since he last met with the Greene Board of Supervisors.
The Top Priorities of the 2016 TJPDC Legislative Plan were:
1) public education funding
2) equalized revenue authority
3) state mandate and funding obligations
Related to public education funding, Blount commented that the General Assembly had raised funding back to 2009 levels and he hoped the state would protect that investment. The main issue for the 3rd item was that the state should not impose unfunded mandates and shift costs to localities.
Blount will present each of the member localities an updated draft program in October and requested that they respond to him by November.
He addressed several issues that will impact next year such as the state revenue gap of $1.2 billion. His understanding is that the budgeted 2% pay raises will be delayed along with dipping into the “rainy day fund” to help close the shortfall.
In addition, Blount addressed the Airbnb bill , wireless infrastructure (cell towers), standard of qualities in education and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The VRS rate of return the past year (of 7%) is actually above the past two years rates. Chairman Bill Martin agreed with the three priorities and committed to working with Blount’s schedule.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization. The Free Enterprise Forum Field Officer program is funded by a generous grant from the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) and by readers like you. To support this important work please donate online at www.freeenterpriseforum.org