July 22, 2011
I hope you are all enjoying this summer weather and you’re staying cool! I wanted to check in with you and let you know about a few things that have been going on locally and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have.
As you have likely already heard, Governor McDonnell announced this week that for the second year in a row, the Commonwealth has ended the fiscal year in the black. Fiscal Year 2011 was concluded with approximately a $311 million dollar surplus from general fund revenue collections. Revenue collections increased by almost 6% in FY 2011, well ahead of the predicted growth.
It is likely that the surplus number will be adjusted in the coming weeks, and we will see the final surplus numbers released in August according to the Governor’s office. These numbers will in all likelihood increase. We saw this in 2010, when the original surplus was announced to be $228 million, and the final adjustment showed a surplus of $403 million.
This year’s surplus is due in large part to the responsible budgeting and low taxes in the Commonwealth. It is also thanks to the efforts of the administration to bring more jobs to Virginia. While there are many encouraging signs of economic improvement, we must still behave responsibly. When you have to tighten your belts and make tough decisions, you have the right to expect your government to do the same.
Nevertheless, I’m very pleased with these numbers, and I believe that it is a good indication that the economy in Virginia is getting back on track. At a time when our federal government and many state governments continue to struggle with their budgets, Virginia has once again been able to produce a structurally sound budget that was not only balanced but that produced a surplus. I am thankful that our Governor as well as the House of Delegates has helped to put Virginia in a great spot to move forward, and I believe that with the uncertainty we see at the federal level, this could not come at a more important time.
The state constitution, as well as the budget bill passed by the House and Senate this year, put forth the criteria for the disbursement of Surplus Revenue. It is likely that those numbers will be as follows. It is important to note, however, that these numbers are approximate, and are subject to changes.
$146.6 million: Revenue Stabilization Fund Deposit from FY2011 Surplus
$32.2 million: Water Quality Fund
$23.0 million: Pay Transportation for its Share of the Accelerated Sales Tax
$8.9 million: Interest on Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund Due to Federal Government
$4.3 million: Tornado Relief
$7.5 million: For Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Obligations
$7.4 million: Supplemental Public Safety Funding for Sheriff’s Offices
Any additional funds will likely go to the the Virginia Retirement System to help ensure the long-term viability and stability of the system.
CNBC Ranks Virginia the Best State to Do Business
I’m proud to announce that Virginia has been named America’s “Top State for Business” by CNBC. Not only was the Commonwealth ranked at the top, but we also received the highest point total in the history of the rankings. Virginia was ranked in the top-half of every category. If you’d like to see more information on these rankings please click here.
I believe that this ranking can be attributed to the strong pro-business and low tax policies in the Commonwealth. These policies will continue to attract businesses to Virginia and support the job growth that we need. We must continue to promote business, and strive to be a place where people choose to live and work.
It is my hope that the federal government and other state governments will continue to look to Virginia as a role model.
Attorney General Cuccinelli Rules on Property Taxes for Disabled Veterans
There has been some confusion in the past few months about a constitutional amendment that was passed in 2010. The amendment would allow for real estate tax exemptions for veterans who have 100 percent service related disabilities. The confusion was due in large part to the classification system by the Veteran’s Administration. Many Commissioners of Revenue across the state were unsure exactly how to enforce the law.
Attorney General Cuccinelli has ruled that injured veterans who meet the expanded definition of “100 percent disabled” are in fact eligible to receive this tax exemption. He determined that the exemption applies to veterans rated as 100 percent disabled, regardless of how the Veterans Association arrived at the rating.
If you believe that you qualify for this exemption I would encourage you to contact your local Commissioner of Revenue.
On Sunday, July 10 I had the opportunity to spend the day at the Waynesboro Extravaganza. I was able to talk to a lot of folks, including some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. This Thursday, I had a great opportunity to host a Town Hall meeting with some of the residents of Baldwin Park in Staunton. They came with great questions and it was a pleasure to meet with them.
If you know of events that you would like for me to attend, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Dickie@BellforDelegate.com.
July 23 – All Day – Sweet Dream’s Festival, Stuarts Draft
July 23 – 5:00 pm – Churchville Fireman’s Parade, Churchville
July 27 – 11:30 am – Town Hall Meeting at Augusta Health
July 28 – 7:00 pm – Augusta County Republican Committee Mass Meeting
July 30 – 10:00 am – Fishburne Military Academy Graduation Ceremony
Tuesday August 9 – Saturday August 13 – Augusta County Fair
Our campaign is in full swing now, and I need your help. I have to campaign this year in a district that is 40 percent new, and I need your help getting the word out. Can you make a donation of $20, $50, $75, $100, or $500 dollars to my campaign? This will help me spread my message of small government to the new constituents in the 20th District. Unfortunately campaigns are expensive, and I cannot be successful with your help.
You can donate online here or you can mail a check to Dickie Bell for Delegate, Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.
Thank you in advance!
As you are undoubtedly aware, there is a lot of discussion going on right now in Washington about raising the debt ceiling. Do you believe that the federal government should raise the debt ceiling? Email your response to me at Dickie@BellforDelegate.com.