Budget would boost teacher pay, Medicaid waivers

The Virginia House of Delegates released its proposed amendments to the 2012-2014 state budget Sunday, seeking to pump more money into the commonwealth’s “rainy day” fund, education and Medicaid.

The proposals include a $95 million deposit in the state’s rainy day fund, which is used for contingencies. The plan also would provide $45 million for pay raises for teachers and school support staff, funding for school security and funding for an addition 250 Medicaid waiver slots.

“On the heels of the news that our national economy shrunk in the last quarter of 2012, it’s important that we continue to exercise fiscal discipline,” said House Majority Leader M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who is also vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Cox said the $95 million rainy day fund includes $45 million more than Gov. Bob McDonnell called for. This would prepare Virginia for economic challenges that might lie ahead, Cox said.

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, commended the plan that emerged from the House Appropriations Committee.

“This is a conservative and responsible budget that makes targeted investments in our core areas of need and focuses on our governing priorities: jobs, K-12 and higher education, public safety and health care,” Howell said.

The 250 Medicaid slots added by the budget would create 200 Intellectual Disability waivers and 50 Development Disability waivers, according to Delegate Riley Ingram, R-Hopewell. The budget specifically includes $7.7 million for ID and DD Medicaid waivers.

“Protecting the health care safety net for less fortunate Virginians is absolutely critical,” Ingram said.

The budget also includes $2.5 million in targeted economic development incentives to create the Cyber Accelerator program, which state officials hope will attract cyber security companies to Virginia and will be managed by the state’s Center for Innovative Technology.

The allocation would also increase the cap by $500,000 for angel investor tax credit, a credit system to help individual investors in early-stage businesses.

“In the past three years, we have invested over $100 million in concentrated economic development and watched our unemployment rate drop to 5.5 percent,” said Delegate Steve Landes, R-Augusta, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s economic development subcommittee. “But we know there is more work to do.”

Funding Cyber Accelerator and expanding the angel investor tax credit are just two ways that efforts are being made to create a good climate for job creation, Landes said.

For education, the House’s proposed budget expands on McDonnell’s proposed 2 percent pay raise for teachers and includes support staff. The proposed funding totals $62 million. The budget also includes $12 million for higher education enrollment growth and $3.7 million to increase Virginia Tuition Assistance grants from $2,800 to $3,100 per student.

“As they grow older, we want to make sure all of our students have the opportunity to attend a Virginia college or university” said Delegate Bob Tata, R-Virginia Beach, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on K-12 education. “Expanded funding to encourage enrollment growth and TAG grants are two important parts of achieving that goal.”

School and public safety were also mentioned in the budget. House Republicans announced Friday that there would be $31 million for this purpose. The budget includes $1.7 million for school resource officers and $30 million for school security improvements.

“We want to reward and recognize our teachers because the selfless work they do is critical to the education of our young people,” Tata said. “Educating our young people is critical to Virginia’s long-term economic development.”

The House of Delegates is expected to vote on its budget proposal Feb. 7.
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Cyclist killed in crash was 52-year-old man

Henrico Police have named the victim killed June 21 when the bicycle he was riding collided with a truck on Mechanicsville Turnpike near I-64 in Eastern Henrico.

Fifty-two year-old Ray J. Freeman, of Richmond, died at a local hospital after being struck. The truck that hit him was traveling south on Mechanicsville Turnpike. > Read more.

Henrico man sentenced to 10 years in prison for dealing heroin

A Henrico man was sentenced June 20 to 10 years in prison for distribution of heroin.

Arlando Harris, 35, pleaded guilty on Dec. 29, 2016. According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Henrico Police executed a search warrant at Harris' mother's residence in Henrico on March 16, 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen HS student earns playwriting residency


A play written by a Glen Allen High School junior was selected, along with seven others, to be performed professionally this summer through a nationally acclaimed Virginia high school playwriting program.

47B, a play written by 16-year-old Glen Allen High school student Dominique Dowling, was chosen by New Voices for the Theater, a playwriting competition sponsored by the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, from a pool of more than 150 plays by high school students in the state. > Read more.

Missing Eastern Henrico man found dead

Henrico Police have found the body of a missing Eastern Henrico man.

The body of 25-year-old Taj Rashad Bullock, who was last seen June 10 in Eastern Henrico, was found June 20 in a wooded area in that part of the county. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to participate in USDA summer food service


Henrico County Public Schools, through its Division of School Nutrition Services, will participate in the 2017 Summer Food Service Program administered by the US Department of Agriculture. The program provides meals to students enrolled in Henrico Schools summer programs or in those run by the Henrico County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Food service will be provided Monday through Thursday each week. (All sites will be closed Tuesday, July 4, in recognition of Independence Day.) Breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Lunch will be served between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., but specific lunch times will vary depending on the site. > Read more.

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Cracker – Unplugged will perform at 8 p.m. at The Tin Pan, 8982 Quioccasin Rd. Cracker has been described as a lot of things over the years: alt-rock, Americana, insurgent-country and even punk and classic rock. Co-founders David Lowery and Johnny Hickman have been at it for a quarter of a century – amassing ten studio albums, multiple gold records, thousands of live performances, and hit songs that are still in current radio rotation around the globe. Tickets are $42.50 in advance and $47.50 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. For details, call 447-8189 or visit http://www.tinpanrva.com. Full text

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