My mentor and Fav Del. Scott Lingamfelter wrote this great Op-Ed for the Fauquier.com
Now that the 2015 General Assembly Session has concluded, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you the result of our work. Despite all the gridlock in Washington these days, we actually get things done in Richmond, on time, responsibly, and in a conservative manner.
The 2015 General Assembly adjourned ahead of schedule this year, for the first time in 15 years, demonstrating the clear contrast between Richmond and Washington. While Washington is gridlocked with partisanship, Republicans in Richmond are leading and governing.
We passed a conservative, responsible and, most importantly, balanced state budget that spends $1 billion less in general funds than last year’s originally-adopted budget. We have kept general fund spending, spending that comes from your direct taxes, under control in Virginia by making wise decisions to constrain spending and not increase taxes. The budget we just passed contains less general fund spending than the budget the governor brought to us in December 2013. In fact, over the past 10 years, when controlling for growth in population and inflation, the general fund actually decreased by 4 percent.
We rejected the governor’s effort to impose the Obamacare Medicaid expansion on Virginians. And we re-prioritized funding for pay raises for state employees, teachers, and state troopers.
On jobs, the House of Delegates remained laser-focused on improving Virginia’s economy. We passed legislation to attract innovative new companies to Virginia, making it possible for entrepreneurs to get the funding they need, fought to protect Virginia’s status as a right-to-work state, and defeated job-killing legislation that would hurt small businesses.
In higher education, making college more affordable was a top priority this year. I supported several bills to do just that, including legislation to cap unreasonable mandatory student fees, encourage colleges to offer affordable “flat-fee” degrees, and make it easier for families to find the information they need about college costs. The House budget also included additional funding for more in-state tuition slots, financial aid, and transfer-student grants.
In K-12 education, we continued to reform and improve our public schools. Our goal was to give every child a path to succeed in the classroom. We passed legislation to expedite Standards of Learning re-take tests and require schools to submit less paperwork to Richmond. And our budget funds a 1.5 percent teacher pay raise.
In transportation, the House of Delegates continues to increase accountability in our transportation system by working to protect taxpayer dollars. This year we changed the formula used to decide how transportation dollars are spent, picking up on one of my legislative priorities, to send more money to local governments for secondary road maintenance and repair. We also passed legislation to require transit projects to be reviewed based on their metrics, just like every other transportation project.
We worked on several other important and challenging issues: ethics reform, legislation to aid victims and protect students from sexual assault on campus, and changes to Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control System to make it run more like a business and not a bureaucracy.
But we had some bad ideas show up as well. The House defeated liberal efforts to enact Michael Bloomberg’s radical gun-control agenda, fought to hold Attorney General Mark Herring accountable for his actions, and defeated efforts to roll back Virginia’s pro-life informed consent statutes that protect mothers and innocent life.
At a time when many of us are concerned that our government is unaccountable to us, it doesn’t listen to us, it grows unconstrained, threatens our liberty, and has abandoned the founding vision, I want to assure you that here in Virginia we are on a distinctly different path from Washington.
Conservative governance works for everybody. When government refrains from taking your hard-earned money, you can address the needs of your family or small business so that you can prosper and grow. When government respects your rights and liberty, then you can make the best choices for you and your family, business, and community.
Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter
(R-31st, Prince William and Fauquier counties)