JULY 21, 2021
Jane and I decided to take off a few days with a visit to far Southwest Virginia. Here we are at Cumberland Gap standing in Virginia with Tennessee to the left and Kentucky to the right in the background. At this point in Virginia you are further west than Detroit and closer to five other state capitals than you are to Richmond. A beautiful area with many unique challenges.
IN THIS ISSUE
  • Commentary: Awash in Cash?
  • Latest Updates on COVID-19
  • Bulletin Board
  • What Can I Do?
  • Check your Calendar
COMMENTARY
Awash in Cash?

With the news reports of the cash coming to state and local governments from the federal government to provide relief from the effects of the COVID pandemic and the announcement that Virginia will have a sizable cash balance at the end of this fiscal year, one could conclude that government is awash in cash! The General Assembly will meet in Special Session called by Governor Ralph Northam to decide how some of the new monies coming to the Commonwealth will be spent. The Governor will propose a spending plan for those funds that are allocated directly to state government within the “strings attached” from the federal government as to how the money can be spent. The total American Rescue Plan approved by the Congress so far amounts to $1.9 trillion, and that is above the Cares Act monies approved earlier. As you know from daily press reports, the President and members of Congress are working on a compromise for additional funding to ensure the economy recovers and that many infrastructure and program needs that have not been met in the past can be addressed.

Spending the amount of cash that is coming available will not be difficult. In fact, for every dollar coming available there are about five dollars in legitimate spending needs that could be addressed. Be sure that the House of Delegates is not going to spend dollars just because they come available. Strict justification will be required before an expenditure is made. The experiences of the pandemic made many needs obvious. While technology offered many solutions to schools and businesses through digital means, the need made clear the disparities in many places throughout the state in internet access. Certainly teaching by online instruction is a viable alternative to teach and to enforce learning, but it is of little value to children who live in communities without broadband access. Governor Northam has already signaled that he will propose a significant amount of money to expand broadband in the state. It will serve an educational purpose and an economic development purpose as well.

The demands on first responders, medical personnel, and teachers made clear that they are not adequately compensated for what they do. The demand to fill vacancies in these areas has become critical in many communities because of the demand in the jobs and the lack of adequate pay. The use of monies to make critical adjustments in pay for these workers will be top priority, but the response to the need must be more than a one-time bonus and must be an increase in the pay scale.

Monies from the American Rescue Plan can go to private businesses that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Hotels and restaurants and small businesses may receive assistance even if they received loans under the earlier Cares Act funding.

Following its historic pattern as a triple-A rated state for the management of its financial affairs and its recent recognition for the second time as the best state in which to do business, the Commonwealth will retain its rainy day fund and reserves to rescue itself when the next economic downturn comes our way. It is wonderful that funding is coming available to meet critical needs; we must be responsible in the way we spend our cash!
Thanks to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis for the helpful graphic below. Click on the image to see it larger.
LATEST UPDATES on COVID-19
Fairfax County

7/20/2021 — Funding Available for Tenants and Landlords Through Emergency Rental Assistance ProgramRead the details.

7/20/2021 — Health Department, Fire and Rescue Partner on Homebound Vaccine Program. Read about the partnership.


Virginia

7/20/2021 — Governor Northam Announces Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Dropped Again, Falling to 4.3 Percent in June. Read the update.

7/20/2021 — Governor Northam Proposes $353 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding to Accelerate Small Business Recovery. Read the information.


Nationwide

7/20/2021 — IRS Outlines Coronavirus Relief for Retirement Plans and IRAs. Read the details.

7/20/2021 — NIH Reports What Severe COVID-19 Does to the Brain. Read the findings.

BULLETIN BOARD
Northern Virginia Family Service's 2021 Back2School Drive

Many families are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Money is tight and for a family struggling to even pay their bills, school supplies are a luxury.
A backpack full of new supplies can give a child the confidence they need to start the school year right AND help ease the financial burden for the family whether learning takes place at the kitchen table or the classroom this fall.
YOU can equip a student with the tools they need to start the school year strong and prepared to chase their dreams.
Learn how you can help at Back2School Drive.
Hey fourth graders! 
See America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free.
For the entire year, starting September 1st, 4th-graders can sign up to get their very own Every Kid Outdoors pass. This pass gives children and their families free access to the millions of acres of public lands across the country! Learn more at Every Kid Outdoors.
Grant Funds Available to Localities to Combat Hate Crimes
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is pleased to offer a second opportunity for grant funds to localities to combat hate crimes. DCJS is soliciting applications to make competitive grants to localities within the Commonwealth that have established a partnership program with institutions and/or nonprofit organizations that have been targets or are at risk of being targets of hate crimes. The goal of this program is to minimize bias-motivated incidents by providing funding that supports institutions and/or nonprofit organizations that may be at risk based on race, religious conviction, color, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin.

More information about the grant solicitation, including the guidelines and application procedures and an upcoming webinar can be found here.

WHAT CAN I DO? CIVIC INVOLVEMENT

Public hearings have been scheduled.
Plan to testify – in writing, in person, or virtually.
Tuesday, July 27, 4:00 p.m.
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
 
For more information:

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Thursday, July 22, 11:00 a.m. to noon, Reston's Appraisal Roadshow, at Reston Association Headquarters. Cost is $15 Reston; $18 non-Reston. You may present one personal valuable, such as jewelry, coins, a timepiece, porcelain, artwork or other heirlooms and the appraisal experts will educate the audience with interesting facts and information on what it is, what it’s worth and what you could sell it for. Private appointments with the experts may also be scheduled for a later date. Contact Ashleigh@reston.org or 703-435-6577 with any questions. Register at Appraisal Roadshow

Friday, July 23, 6:30 p.m., the Town of Vienna Summer on the Green concert featuring Shenandoah Run, on the Vienna Town Green. More is at Summer on the Green.

Monday, July 26, 6:30 p.m., RCC Strategic Planning—Survey Data Public Meeting, RCC Hunters Woods. Come hear about the 2019 RCC Community Survey data and methodology, new survey results, and offer your feedback and ideas. Register here. More information is at Community Meeting.

Friday, July 30, 1:30 to 6:00 p.m., United Christian Parish Blood Drive, at United Christian Parish, 11508 North Shore Dr., Reston. The Inova Blood Donor Services Bloodmobile will be in the parking lot. Schedule your appointment. Download a flyer.

Friday, July 30, 6:30 p.m., the Town of Vienna Summer on the Green concert featuring Fat Chance, on the Vienna Town Green. More is at Summer on the Green.