Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va) in the Longworth House Office Building (Bill Clark/AP)
It’s a slow, unglamorous path to a Metro makeover
On television, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into a rundown and poorly managed restaurant. The customers are fleeing, and the owners are begging for a makeover. Ramsay spends a few days disrupting everyone and everything. After remodeling the restaurant, he brings the staff back in. It looks like a different place. The dazzled staff flop around and proclaim Ramsay a genius with impeccable taste in food and design. You see where we’re going with this? Commuters are looking forward to a makeover of their own that will involve a lot of disruption but end with impressive results: a rebirth of the national capital’s subway system.
Should Virginia pay more for Metro?
Earlier this month, 11 Republican members of the House of Delegates from Northern Virginia signed a letter addressed to Jack Evans, chairman of the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and a District of Columbia councilman. They took aim at a frequent talking point of Evans and other advocates for the beleaguered transit system: that Metro is one of the only large transit systems in the U.S. without a dedicated source of operating revenue, such as a regional tax, and will continue to struggle until it gets one. Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, after prodding by the federal government, are assembling a Metrorail Safety Commission to oversee and enforce safety standards at Metro. It also comes amid a looming debate on the future funding of the system, which needs about $18 billion in deferred maintenance; faces a $2.5 billion unfunded pension liability; and has seen its reputation tarred by fatal derailments, fires and service outages.
Prince William School Board approves trimmed fiscal budget
The Prince William County School Board will dip into reserve funds and scale back plans to add new special education positions to cut about $9 million from the division’s $1.08 billion budget for next school year. The Prince William Board of Supervisors’ May 6 vote to keep the real-estate tax rate flat for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, was the reason for majority of the cuts, or about $8 million. But the reduction in expected local funding is only part of the problem facing the county’s 95 schools, according to Dave Cline, Prince William’s associate superintendent for finance and support services.
Brentsville School Board Member receives naval deployment
Brentsville school board representative Gil Trenum announced Wednesday that he was will soon be deployed to Africa to command a troop of U.S. Navy Reservists. Trenum has chosen to retain his position as school board member; however, he may help to appoint a proxy who will vote and speak on his behalf. According to Virginia Code 2.2-2280 Reservists are able to continue to hold elected offices in Virginia while in active duty and may choose a replacement.
Want to serve on the Manassas City School Board?
The School Board of the City of Manassas will appoint a School Board Member to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ellen M. Purdy. The appointee will serve until December 31, 2016. City of Manassas residents interested in being considered for appointment by the School Board should send letters of interest and a brief resume to the School Board, Attention: Clerk of the Board (mailing address: P.O. Box 520, Manassas, VA 20108) (street address: 8700 Centreville Road, Suite 400, Manassas, VA 20110). The documents must be submitted to the Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00 P.M. on June 28, 2016. Interviews are scheduled to be held on July 11, 2016.
Being a few miles apart in Northern Virginia can mean very different life expectancies, report says
Northern Virginia consistently ranks among the nation’s wealthiest, healthiest and most-educated regions. It’s where some of the most powerful government workers, lawyers and contractors reside in sprawling homes. But these stories of wealth aren’t representative of the entire area, according to a study released Tuesday that shows the stark disparity in life expectancies between Northern Virginia’s richest and poorest residents. The average life expectancy of a child born in an affluent census tract can be as much as 13 years higher than those in the poorest. A baby born in parts of western Lorton, for example, is expected to live to 89, while a newborn a short distance away in Manassas has a life expectancy of 76 years, according to the report from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health.
State revenues increase 6.4 percent in May, narrowing potential year end shortfall
State revenues rose 6.4 percent in May, slightly narrowing the gap of a potential year-end shortfall that could imperil scheduled raises for state employees, college faculty, and teachers in December. However, the improved performance, based largely on a big drop in income tax refunds, still leaves Virginia lagging behind projected revenue growth for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Through the end of May, revenues had grown 1.9 percent for the year, or 1.3 percentage points behind the projection on which the budget is based. “We’ve got to make up more than $220 million by the end of the month to make our forecast,” House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, said Monday.
Virginia’s economy shows signs of recovery despite cuts in federal employment, workspace
Not all is well in Virginia. Vacated office parks are dragging down local tax coffers. Home values in the exurbs of Fairfax and Loudoun counties are lagging the rest of the region. The federal government continues to slim its workforce and its work space, which historically does not bode well for other sectors. But there is little doubt that things are on the upswing in the commonwealth, particularly after data reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce Tuesday showed that Virginia posted 1.4 percent GDP growth in 2015, well above its nearly flat 2014 GDP which ranked third-to-last nationally. That growth isn’t going to set the world on fire. It was 32nd nationally, just ahead of New York and Michigan but behind Maryland, which posted 1.5 percent growth. D.C. posted 2.5 percent growth in 2015, though it is typically compared to other urban cities and not larger states.
Stewart: ‘We will kick their asses out of the country’
Corey Stewart took to Facebook over the weekend to weigh in on the violence that broke out after a Trump rally in California last week, calling it “thuggery” and making a controversial promise regarding those he suggests are to blame. “When I am governor, thugs like these will be apprehended and, if they are illegal, we will kick their asses out of the country, just like we did in Prince William County,” Stewart wrote. On Monday, the Democratic Party of Virginia called Stewart’s remarks “racist” and noted that none of Virginia’s Republican leaders have so far spoken out against them.
As other GOP leaders squirm at Trump’s stance on judge, Corey Stewart applauds
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s remarks about the “Mexican” judge presiding over a fraud case against him have drawn condemnation from many Republicans. Corey A. Stewart is not among them. Stewart, the chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign and a GOP contender for Virginia governor in 2017, turned to Facebook to offer Trump his full-throated support. When Trump travels to Richmond on Friday for an evening rally at the Richmond Coliseum, Stewart will welcome him to the commonwealth. Stewart has warned that if there are any illegal immigrants protesting at the Richmond event, “we’re going to kick their asses out of the country.”
With Forbes’ defeat, Virginia’s delegation to Congress grows less experienced
Virginia’s own Eric Cantor is Speaker of the House. Two Virginia congressmen sit on the appropriations committee. Another heads Armed Services. The commonwealth overflows with defense spending and military assets. This was the future that many political observers envisioned for Virginia two years ago. Instead, voters ousted Cantor, foretelling a wave of retirements that left the delegation flush with backbenchers but no seasoned leaders. And U.S. Rep J. Randy Forbes’s double-digit defeat Tuesday at the hands of Del. Scott W. Taylor (Virginia Beach) in the state’s Republican primary intensifies Virginia’s declining cachet in Washington. A 15-year incumbent and subcommittee chairman, Forbes had the seniority to bring home funding and projects that a freshman lacks.
Trump’s Va. chairman tapped to help shape RPV strategy for November
As many Republicans keep Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at arm’s length, the Republican Party of Virginia is moving closer to embracing it. Corey Stewart, a Republican candidate for governor in 2017 who led Trump’s Virginia primary campaign, has been selected as co-chairman of the party’s “Team Virginia” field and communications efforts this year, the party announced Thursday. He’ll share those duties with former Gov. Jim Gilmore, who ran against Trump in the GOP primary. “With Corey Stewart on board, we will be able to bring together the resource of the Trump campaign and combine them with the resources that the Republican National Committee and RPV have already committed to this effort,” RPV Chairman John Whitbeck said in a news release. “Team Virginia is the largest and most aggressive plan in the history of the RPV.”
Northam gets endorsements as Dems meet in Richmond for state convention
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders may not be hitched to the Hillary Clinton presidential bandwagon yet, but Virginia’s top Democrats are officially lining up behind the 2017 gubernatorial candidacy of Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam. As party faithful gather today for their state convention in Richmond, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine issued statements backing the physician politician from the Eastern Shore to lead Democrats’ statewide ticket next year. Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring — who once considered a run for the Executive Mansion — had endorsed Northam in September.
Government Affairs Coordinator