The 2017 Virginia General Assembly is evaluating bipartisan amendments from the House and Senate to reverse the recommended budget reductions found in the Governor’s proposed budget. Excerpts from the following legislative subcommittee reports and press accounts indicate strong support for the GO Virginia program and its goals:
- Report of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources & Technology HB 1500 (February 5, 2017)
“In other efforts to support strategic investments in our economic growth, today we recommend restoring $7.5 million to the ‘Go Virginia’ initiative, so that we may capitalize on the admirable work the regional boards have been doing since this innovation bottom-up approach to growing our regions was adopted last Session.” – pg. 2
Explanation of line amendment: “This amendment restores funding to the regional economic development activities of the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board by $7,500,00 in the biennium budget as follows: first year from the general fund $3,600,000 and second year from the general fund $2,150,000 for organizational and capacity grants, and second year from the general fund $1,750,000 for per capita grants.” – pg. 10
- Report of the Subcommittee on Economic Development and Natural Resources; Senate Finance Committee (February 5, 2017)
“The amendments we recommend to you restore $7.5 million of the $15 million proposed reduction to GO Virginia. This important initiative is at a critical point in its formation, and such a dramatic reduction in funding could seriously jeopardize its success. We also recommend restoring $1.8 million to the Enterprise Zone Grant Program and $1.3 million to the Brownfields Restoration and Economic Development Assistance Fund.” – pg. 1
Explanation of line amendment: “This amendment restores funding of $7.5 million GF for GO Virginia, approximately one half of the reduction proposed in the Governor’s budget. This amendment provides (i) $1.95 million in FY 2017 and $3.9 million in FY 2018 for a total of $650,000 per region over the biennium for organizational and capacity building activities as well as preparing regional workforce gap analyses; (ii) $12.2 million in FY 2018 for grants to regional councils based on each region’s share of state population; and, (iii) $10.0 million in FY 2018 for grants to be awarded to regional councils on a competitive basis. If any portion of the $650,000 per region allocated for organizational and capacity building activities and regional workforce gap analyses is not used for those purposes, the remaining portion shall be added to that region’s allocation for grant awards based on the region’s population.) – pg. 7
- House Republicans release amended two-year budget (Augusta Free Press)
“Growing Virginia’s economy is our number one priority. This budget maintains that commitment, but increases accountability and oversight in order to protect taxpayer’s dollars,” said Majority Leader M. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “We are restoring the funds that were cut to GO Virginia. Our steps in this budget will yield long-term positive results for the Commonwealth.”
- Va. House, Senate budgets would boost pay for public employees (Richmond Times Dispatch)
In economic development, the House plan would restore $7.5 million to the GO Virginia initiative, or about half of the $15 million that McAuliffe cut in his proposed budget. It also would restore half of the $4 million the governor cut from incentives for the Inova Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute in Fairfax County.
GO Virginia’s 2016 Legislative Package
GO Virginia advanced five policy priorities during the 2016 General Assembly session that received strong bipartisan support and have been approved by the Governor.
Created the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act to direct state grants (GO! Grants) that leverage local, private, and other investment in key regional initiatives and industry sectors. A 24 member business-led board will oversee disbursement of $35.95 million which is included in the FY 17-18 budget. (SB 449 / HB 834)
Created the Collaborative Economic Development Jobs Act to provide incentives for localities to cooperate rather than compete with each other on economic development. Collaborating localities can receive up to 45% of personal income taxes generated by eligible projects for up to 6 years. (SB 459 / HB 846)
Provides funding to promote cost-saving collaboration by localities, school divisions, and colleges. Criteria for the GO! Grants program described above encourage such collaboration; the FY 17-18 budget includes $1 million.
Created the Virginia Investment Research Fund and other vehicles to enhance investment in research leading to new business ventures. Monies support efforts to attract scholars to Virginia research schools, renovate labs, and purchase equipment for research with commercial application. $97.5 million in combined general funds and bonds for capital investment and research are included in the FY 17-18 budget.(HB 1343)
Authorizes $2.23 billion in bonds for capital projects with regional economic impact and includes over $1 billion for STEM focused facilities at Virginia’s colleges and universities. (SB 731 / HB 1344)