Action Alert – Feb 29 2016Monday, February 29, 2016 - 11:30am
Action alert : Budget amendments affecting local governments need your voice
Action needed today:
The House and Senate budget conference is now underway. Time is short to register your opinion on amendments important to local governments. Many are VML-initiated amendments. Please let your voice be heard!
The following is a list of budget amendment that need your attention. Many are VML-initiated amendments; the Airbnb amendment comes out of hotly-contested legislation this session (HB 812 and SB 416) that VML opposed.
Deadline for action:
The sooner, the better, and no later than Wednesday, March 2.
Who to Contact:
Please call or email the House and Senate budget conferees about the following issues to express your support or call for action on particular items.
Potential Senate conferees*: Tommy Norment (Finance Co-chair), Emmett Hanger (Finance Co-Chair), Steve Newman, Frank Ruff, Frank Wagner, Janet Howell, Richard Saslaw
*Senate has not officially named conferees but sources say that these members will serve as conferees.
State seizure of local fines & forfeitures, or “local aid to the state, part II.”
Language authorizing the state to seize local fines and forfeitures remains in both the House and Senate budgets (Item 3-6.05). The Senate (Item 3-6.05#1s) made a technical amendment to the language that takes out language referencing FY15, but the bottom line remains the same – 33 localities will be required to turn in an increasing share of their local fines and forfeitures to the state Literary Fund.
- Ask delegates and senators to eliminate language in Item 3-6.05, which authorizes the state to seize local fines and forfeitures.
- There is no basis in statute or the Virginia Constitution that mandates local revenues go into the Literary Fund.
- Any issues with the funding of the Literary Fund result from the state drawing down balances by using it more for operational costs (i.e., paying the state share of teacher retirement) than for making loans for school construction.
- Local governments contribute $3.6 billion above the match requirement for K-12 education costs.
Jail per diems
Both the House and Senate retained funding to pay the state’s share of the FY16 fourth quarter per diem payments (Item 70#2h and Item 70#1s), and both recognized the need to make a down payment on the state’s share of per diem costs in FY17. The House funded both years of the new biennium, the Senate only FY17.
- Please thank both sides for recognizing the need to fund the state share of per diem costs in the coming biennium.
- Please tell both sides to retain this funding commitment in the budget (and not shift funding to other issues).
State assistance to local law enforcement (HB 599 program)
Gov. McAuliffe’s introduced budget increased funding to this program by $6.7 million each year. The House reduced by $1.55 million each year (Item 400#1h). The Senate maintained the level of funding proposed in the introduced budget ($179.12 million each year).
- Please support the Senate position to retain the funding level at $179.12 million each year.
- Since the great recession, funding to local police departments has continued to lag, even as state revenues recovered.
- The introduced budget made a modest step towards getting this program’s funding levels back to the pre-recession level (FY 08).
CSA local administrative funding
Amendments were introduced on both sides to increase the state’s contribution to local administrative funding for the Children’s Services act (CSA) program. The House included $500,000 each year to provide a modest but meaningful boost in this funding (Item 285#1h); the Senate did not provide any additional funding.
- Support the House amendment to increase administrative funding.
- Local governments administer the program on behalf of the state, and local governments pay a substantial share of the services costs as well as the overwhelming share of administrative costs.
- State administrative funding has not increased since 1999, while the administrative responsibilities managed by localities have consistently increased since that time.
K-12 education funding
The education funding included in the introduced budget as well as the House and Senate packages is greatly welcome. Each version recognizes that localities are paying a disproportionate share of the cost of public education. The budgets represent an important step in beginning to reverse the state disinvestment in public education, but state education funding continues to lag historic levels. The House version includes a greater commitment to on-going funding.
- Ask the conferees to support flexibility on local match requirements and to support increased funding for K-12 education.
Stormwater Local Assistance Fund
Support the Senate amendment to authorize $20 million in bonds for Stormwater Local Assistance Funds (SLAF) to provide 50 percent matching grants to localities to reduce stormwater pollution (Item C-47.5#1s). There is no House amendment, and no funding was included in the Governor’s introduced budget.
- Please support dedicated and adequate state appropriations to the SLAF to address costs associated with the permit requirements of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) and new EPA requirements.
Airbnb study and reenactment
The Senate adopted an amendment requiring that any legislation passed this session relating to the collection of taxes and the preemption of local authority regarding limited residential lodging (Airbnb) cannot become effective until it is reenacted by the 2017 Session and the Virginia Housing Commission completes a study and reports its work to the chairmen of the Senate and House budget-writing committees (Item 3-5.14#3s) .
- Please support the Senate amendment to require reenactment and the Housing Commission study.
- Similar legislation regarding another component of the sharing economy, Uber and Lyft, was approved in the 2015 Session only after a study was conducted that allowed all of the stakeholders to work together to fully discuss and work out all of the issues involved. The Airbnb issue deserves no less discussion and full airing of issues and consequences of potential legislative actions.