State wins grant to extend E-ZPass Express Lanes to Fredericksburg
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is celebrating today, announcing the state won a $165 million federal FASTLANE grant to improve transportation along Interstate 95 and 395. The 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes will be extended from North Stafford to Fredericksburg as part of the project.
Virginia gets federal grant to uncork I-95 corridor
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced Tuesday that Virginia was awarded a federal grant of $165 million for its Atlantic Gateway program, a set of rail, highway and bridge projects meant to ease some of the worst travel bottlenecks on the East Coast. “Winning this significant federal grant will allow Virginia to move forward on a project that will transform travel conditions and stimulate economic growth across our Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said in a statement about the grant supporting improvements in the I-95 corridor. “Our administration worked with federal, state, local and private sector parties to submit a package of transportation improvements that will have far-reaching benefits for everyone who travels the Commonwealth, whether by car, bus or train.” The overall budget for Atlantic Gateway is $1.4 billion, a combination of the federal grant, $710 million in other public financing pulled together by the state and $565 million in private investment. Much of the spending would be on projects in Northern Virginia. These are the highlights of the program.
Prince William County School Board member Gilbert A. “Gil” Trenum Jr., a Navy reservist, has been called up to active duty, which means he’ll soon serve in Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. How the mobilization will affect his elected office, however, is unclear. Trenum (Brentsville) said last month that Virginia’s Division of Legislative Services in Richmond told him that he can continue to hold office while deployed and that he can choose to have a temporary replacement serve in his stead while he is in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.
What has become a politically charged controversy for the Prince William County School Board – how to appoint a temporary replacement for Gil Trenum — is now being considered by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, sent a letter to Herring (D) Thursday, asking his opinion on six separate issues relating to Trenum’s announcement June 15 that he’ll step away from the school board for about a year to deploy to Djibouti, in eastern Africa, to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Trenum, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, is expected to report to active duty later this summer.
On Monday July 11th, The School Board of the City of Manassas voted unanimously to appoint Suzanne W. Seaberg as its newest member. Mrs. Seaberg will be sworn in at 12:15 p.m. today at the Prince William County Courthouse, and her term effective immediately. Her appointment follows the resignation of Board Member Ellen M. Purdy.
A meeting will be held Monday on a proposed high-speed rail line that could impact homeowners in Spotsylvania, Caroline and Stafford counties. The meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Christian Upper School at 9400 Thornton Rolling Road. In May, about 200 local residents received notices in the mail about the possibility that the proposed rail line could include an Eastern Bypass that would run through their properties, meaning some homes would have to be removed.
Raises hang in the balance for state workers, school teachers and other public employees as Virginia collects and counts the last dollars coming into the treasury from the fiscal year that ended last week. But while the size of an expected revenue shortfall will determine whether salaries increase Dec. 1, as scheduled, in the state budget that took effect Friday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly plan to take a fresh look at revenue projections even if not required to do so by law. “I don’t see a scenario where we’re not going to have to at least informally look at the (revenue) forecast,” Secretary of Finance Richard D. “Ric” Brown said last week.
Virginia came up more than $266.3 million short of its revenue forecast in the last fiscal year, which will force the state to defer promised raises for state employees, teachers, college faculty, sheriff’s deputies, and other state-supported local employees. The shortfall, reported to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Friday by Comptroller David Von Moll, also will force cuts in expected revenue for the two-year budget that took effect last week and require the state to revise the revenue projections on which it based spending plans through mid-2018. The state fell short of its projections by 1.8 percent of major revenues — income, sales, and corporate taxes. One percent is the trigger both for the mandatory reforecast and deferral of raises included in the budget on Dec. 1 for state employees, faculty, teachers, and state-supported local employees.
Virginia continues to slip in a prominent ranking of the best states for doing business. The state came in at No. 13 on this year’s list of America’s Top States for Business, released late Tuesday afternoon by business-focused news channel CNBC. It was ranked the third-best place for business in 2012. “The Old Dominion stands superior for workforce and business friendliness, but high costs and weak infrastructure hurt,” CNBC said on its website.
Development and construction of new commercial real estate, including office, industrial, warehouse and retail, continues to be a powerful contributor to the U.S. and state economies, supporting about 3.2 million American jobs and contributing $450 billion to U.S. GDP in 2015, according to a new report released by the NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) Research Foundation. According to the report, 429.4 million square feet of commercial real estate space was built in 2015. Retail and warehouse construction both saw strong gains. Warehouse construction saw a fifth strong year of increased expenditures in 2015, gaining 10.8 percent, while retail expenditures were up 8.2 percent from 2014. According to the report, Virginia is the No. 9 ranked state in the country last year for retail real estate development with just under $1 billion of new development in 2015 that supported 13,281 jobs. Overall, commercial real estate development in the state supported 34,482 related jobs in 2015 and contributed $2.5 billion to the state’s economy.
In the two years since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the nation has come to learn much about the stark socioeconomic differences between black and white neighborhoods in the St. Louis area. Now, a new study says that mortgage lending appears to have played an important part in reinforcing segregation there. Federal data has long shown that the black neighborhoods of St. Louis have been almost devoid of mortgage lending in recent years. A major reason for the dearth of lending is that the incomes of many black residents may be too low to afford a house or qualify for a loan.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring, the Democrat who is running for re-election next year, outraised the two GOP candidates who hope to defeat him in the first half of the year. Herring, who was barred by law from raising money during the 60-day General Assembly session that ended March 11, raised a total of $443,737 in the year’s first six months between his One Commonwealth PAC and his campaign committee. Herring’s One Commonwealth PAC began the year with a balance of $242,164, and his Herring for Attorney General committee started the year with a balance of $50,462. In the two committees combined, he had a balance of $590,585 as of June 30 after expenses.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam leads Republican Ed Gillespie in early fundraising for Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race, but both campaigns say they’re raising money at a faster clip than their predecessors. Both campaigns announced Wednesday that they have more than $1 million on hand halfway through 2016, with Northam’s $1.44 million beating Gillespie’s $1.05 million. At the same point in 2012, Democrat Terry McAuliffe had $1.04 million. Republican Ken Cuccinelli had $627,337. Northam, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, reported raising $1.03 million in 2016 as of June 30 between his Stronger Together PAC and campaign committee. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who ran a surprisingly strong race in 2014 against U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., raised roughly $852,000 in that same period.
Incumbent Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va-10th) easily topped her Democratic challenger LuAnn Bennet in second-quarter fundraising, $737,000 to $507,000. Officials with both campaigns reported the latest fundraising numbers Wednesday. With the latest money pull, Comstock’s cash-on-hand edge grows to nearly $1.5 million. The incumbent has $2.3 million to spend compared to Bennett’s $871,000. “We are proud of the strong support we are receiving every day in the district and of another strong fundraising quarter,” said Ken Nunnenkamp, the Comstock campaign’s political director. “This will complement Congresswoman Comstock’s hardworking campaign so we can run through the finish line in November.”
Virginia state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel has raised $560,000 to fund her 2017 bid for lieutenant governor since announcing her candidacy in March, bringing in a near-record amount for this stage of the campaign. Only former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) raised more than Vogel (R-Fauquier) over a comparable period, taking in $727,000 over the first six months of 2008. And that was when Bolling was an incumbent seeking a second term as lieutenant governor in the 2009 election, with only token opposition for the GOP nod. “I am grateful to the hundreds of supporters across the Commonwealth who are inspired by our message of bold conservative leadership,” Vogel said in a statement.
Government Affairs Coordinator