February 17, 2021
Multiple electronic devices enable me to attend committee meetings
and vote on legislation virtually.
In this Issue
  • Commentary: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!
  • Latest Updates on COVID-19
  • Bulletin Board
  • What Can I Do?
  • Check your Calendar
Commentary

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!
I have never known a politician who has not promised better schools, quality of life and safety. Although these standards are defined differently by the persuasion of the persons making them, the promises share one thing in common: to be realized fully will cost money. The true measure of an officeholder comes not in the promises made but whether that person is willing to put their money where their mouth is. I could not be prouder as a member of the House of Delegates and the Appropriations Committee of the budget passed in the House of Delegates last week. The Senate passed a very similar budget with the differences between the two to be resolved in a conference committee over the next couple of weeks.

While debate over the budget is most often about spending, discussions need also to take into account revenues and investments. There had been dire predictions about state revenues heading into the pandemic, but the loss in revenue has not been nearly as great as feared. In addition, federal monies coming to the state for education and for COVID relief helped make up for lost revenue. The Governor’s proposed budget already had more than a billion dollars in reserve, and the House added $150 million to that amount to soften the impact of a decline of revenue next year without the same level of federal relief.

Both the House and the Senate funded the biggest investment in preschool education ever made. I term it an investment for much research shows that investing in early childhood education pays off many fold in later learning success, civic engagement, and quality of life. The House budget includes the state share of a five percent pay increase for teachers whose average pay has continued to lag behind the national average and who have had to do double duty this year with virtual learning. Funding is provided for another step to a 1:325 school counselor-to-student ratio moving towards the ideal of 1:250. Federal relief of $1.3 billion is provided for schools along with $51.1 million to address COVID-19 learning loss. An amount of $84 million is provided in the budget to maintain affordable access to Virginia colleges and universities and $8.5 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grant awards and include online education.

COVID-19 concerns drove many budget decisions. In addition to getting the schools open when safe and to make up for lost learning, the budget provides paid sick leave for essential workers, increased funding for nursing homes, and worker compensation for health care workers and first responders.

The budget makes investments in the future of the economy and our environment. Funding is provided to expand broadband access throughout the state. A one-time five million dollar capitalization fund is established for rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles for persons whose income qualifies them. The largest ever amount is provided for agricultural best-management practices to meet Chesapeake Bay clean-up benchmarks.

The best compliment that I and my colleagues could receive is that we put the public’s money where we have been told that it should be!
Delegate Plum Seeks Your Input into Priorities for the
2021 General Assembly Session
Latest Updates on COVID-19

Fairfax County

2/16/2021 — What You Need to Know When You Get Vaccinated AND After You Get Vaccinated. Read the article.

2/16/2021 — Fairfax Connector Passengers Reminded of Federal Face Mask Mandate on Buses, at Transit Hubs. Read the details.


Virginia

2/16/2021 — Governor Northam Announces $524 Million in New Funding for Virginia Rent Relief Program. Federal stimulus funds available to help landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. Read the details.

2/16/2021 — Governor Northam, Governor Hogan, and Mayor Bowser Request Federal Support to Vaccinate Essential Federal Employees. Read the release.


Nationwide

2/16/2021 — IRS Issues Guidelines to “Be tax ready: Understand how life changes may affect the 2020 tax return filed this year.” Read the guidelines.

2/16/2021 — CDC Provides Guidance on Caring for Someone Sick at Home. Advice for caregivers in non-healthcare settings. Read the guidance.

Bulletin Board
Hunter Mill District Virtual Town Hall on
February 18; 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
This town hall is an opportunity to get a briefing from Supervisor Alcorn on the state of Hunter Mill District and Fairfax County. Residents will have the opportunity ask questions on county-related issues. Join the virtual meeting with this WebEx link. To listen to the meeting, dial 1-844-621-3956 and use access code: 179 565 4421. You can also watch a live stream of the meeting on YouTube Live, this is also the link to watch the video beginning Feb. 19. 
For additional information, contact the Hunter Mill District office at huntermill@fairfaxcounty.gov or call 703-478-0283.
Fairfax County Is Celebrating Black History Month Virtually
Visit Friday, February 19 for more information and viewing details.
The Fairfax Alliance of Black School Educators (FABSE)
Hosts Events in Honor of Black History Month
Full list of events and details are at A Celebration of Black History
What can I do? Civic Involvement
Give Input to the 2021 General Assembly Session
Now Underway
There are several ways you can be involved:
Calendar of Events
TODAY: Wednesday, February 17, 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., FREE Book Giveaway at Forest Edge Elementary School, 1501 Becontree Lane in Reston. These books are a gift from Friends of the Reston Regional Library. There's no cost, and students don't have to return them. One bag will be given for each student. Families with multiple readers can absolutely have more than one bag! Grade levels are grouped together like this: K-1, 2-3, 4-6.  More details are at FREE Books for Kids.

Saturday, February 20, 10:00 a.m., Fairfax County COVID-19 Vaccines Information Session, hosted by AARP Virginia. An hourlong conversation about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines with Gloria Addo-Ayensu, MD, MPH, Director of Health, Fairfax County Health Dept. RSVP is required to get the Zoom link:  aarp.cvent.com/FairfaxVaccineInfo. This virtual event will help you cut through all the confusion and get the facts you need to decide if you want to get the vaccine.

Monday, February 22, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., Monday Fundays (6-11 years old). RCC Hunters Woods – the CenterStage, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston. Join us for a fun-filled afternoon on Mondays. Activities will include crafts, games, swimming, outdoor play and scavenger hunts (weather permitting). Cost: $15 Reston/$23 Non-Reston. Read more.

Monday, February 22, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., SPAN Forum on Coping with Grief and Loss. Join the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN) in a conversation about the journey through grief. We will talk about healthy ways to process loss and grief, both the loss of loved ones and the loss of important rituals and events, during the COVID-19 epidemic. You will learn about a variety of resources to help children, adults and families navigate the grief process. Speaker: Allyson Drake, Executive Director, Full Circle Grief Center. Register to attend this virtual session.

Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., How to Start a Garden: Community Organizing Workshop. Drawing on his experiences as a gardener and community organizer, Juan Pablo Echeverria, Education Coordinator at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will present practical steps and mistakes to avoid as you launch your project. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about developing a team, determining purpose, designing the garden, creating a budget, applying for any needed permits and selecting the right site. A panel of experienced community gardeners will also be available to answer your questions at the end of Juan Pablo’s virtual presentation. Register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing the Zoom link. Download a flyer.

Tuesday, February 23, 7:30 p.m., The Mindful Teacher: Relieving Stress for Yourself and Your Students. Free workshop/mini-retreat will provide teachers with tools to calm and focus themselves and their students, while relieving stress during and after the school day. We will use yoga, breath-work, mindfulness, meditation as well as other activities to foster a calm environment, focus, self-regulation and a coordinated approach to learning and classroom management through mindfulness principles. Register here.