March 3, 2016
VA West Member--

It's the budget time of Session. The Constitution of Virginia requires that the Commonwealth balance its budget. We do not have the luxury of spending more money than we take in, printing money or living beyond our means. Consequently, the House and Senate have released budget language that are structurally balanced and responsible. VA West believes that balancing the budget is the foundation of responsible fiscal practices in Virginia. We also realize that investing dollars in the right projects is essential to economic prosperity across the state. Further, we are following and advocating for dollars that are important to our region.

The House of Delegates and the Senate have passed their respective budgets. The differences between the two budgets will be negotiated in conference and the conferees (negotiators) have been announced:

The conference committee will resolve differences and submit final budgets to both chambers for a vote. Final action should be taken next week as the General Assembly adjourns sine die on March 12th. Subsequently, the budget will go to the Governor for his approval. This week we wanted to focus on education, economic development and health care areas of the budget. 

Also, I would like to visit each of your Chambers and give a legislative update to you and members you invite -- likely during the months of April and May. Please advise if you think this is a good idea and I will start organizing a doodle to send out. One thing this session has taught me is our voice is much stronger as a western region and it's never to soon to start thinking about 2017 


Josh Baumgartner


The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) will benefit from many funding initiatives in the introduced budget. Highlighted are investments in cyber security training, post-secondary transitioning programs in Central, Southside and Southwest Virginia and the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. All session VA West has been focused on the Workforce Credentials Legislation. Accordingly, HB66 and SB576 continue to advance and the budget includes $12 million (House) and $13 million (Senate) for the credentials program. This initiative continues to be one of our top legislative priorities. We believe that streamlining the path to workforce credentials is critical to filling skilled jobs that are essential and needed by employers in our region.  

We also supported Delegate Chris Head's budget amendment that would appropriate $100,000 for the establishment of a Regional CTE Governors School. A Career and Technical Education (CTE) Governor's school in western Virginia would show businesses that we are serious about providing a skilled workforce to employers. 

In addition to VCCS - Education in general is a major focus in both the House and Senate budgets. Both chambers have more spending for public K-12 and Higher Education than the introduced budget. Specifically, the House has added to the introduced budget with $70 million more to public schools and $66 million more to higher education helping to stabilize tuition rates.

We Advocate for necessary enhancements to K-12 and higher education to prepare all students for careers and all regional businesses with a skilled workforce. 


As a result of appropriating more dollars to education, other areas of the budget were cut - economic development was impacted by the scaling back. Amendments from the House and Senate cut spending in economic development including $60 million for biotechnology spinoff companies and opted to not include the reduction in corporate income tax rates. However, not all economic development dollars were impacted:
  • GO Virginia regional incentive grant program was appropriated $32.9 million by the House and $38.8 million by the Senate.
  • $100 million for investments in commercially viable research initiatives
Another issue to be resolved by the conferees concerns the Airbnb legislation ( HB 812 and SB 416). The Senate adopted a budget amendment requiring that any legislation passed this session relating to the collection of taxes and the preemption of local authority regarding limited residential lodging cannot become effective until it is reenacted by the 2017 Session and a study is completed.

We are advocating for the bioscience addition to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTC) in the introduced bond investment package. Previous investments in VTC have yielded strong economic impact, job creation and put our region on the map as the world's premiere interactive brain imaging network.

We Advocate for support of the GO Virginia Initiative and for results-oriented economic development programs that encourage regional cooperation. 


As expected, both Chambers eliminated the expansion of Medicaid in the budget by removing $3 billion in federal funds related to expansion. Both amended budgets replace expansion by providing additional general funds. The House and Senate also cut the 3 percent tax on hospital revenue that was going to be used to fund the state's commitment to the federal health-care expansion.

On another health care note, Certificate of Public Need bills HB193 and HB350 were in Senate Education and Health on Thursday morning. HB193 (O'Bannon) was the repeal bill and the broader of the two, it was carried over to 2017. HB350 (Byron) was reported out of committee and is a reform bill that  eliminates imaging and  mental health facilities from the COPN process. 

We Advocate  for legislation that promotes personal responsibility, incentives fee-for-performance care, improves the quality of health care while eliminating waste and abuse, and expands affordable health insurance options for employers. We support passage of the health benefit plan legislation in Virginia to help protect small and medium sized businesses.

Roanoke Regional Chamber | 540-983-0700 |
210 S. Jefferson St.
Roanoke, VA 24011