Legislative Priorities of the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership
January 15, 2013
Eileen Curtis, President & CEO
NORTHERN VIRGINIA CHAMBER PARTNERSHIP 2013 POSITIONS
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership is a collaboration between the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce. The Partnership collectively represents more than 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, providing an unparalleled voice for Northern Virginia’s business community in Richmond.
The following provides additional details on the Partnership’s focus for the 2013 General Assembly session.
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, which includes the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers, representing 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, applauds the Governor, as well as leaders on both sides of the political aisle and in both houses, for making transportation a top priority this session.
The Partnership believes that efforts to secure new, sustainable, reliable, long-term regional and statewide transportation funding to meet our critical transportation construction and maintenance needs is a top priority. The Partnership also supports protecting the funds within the Transportation Trust Fund, encouraging public-private partnership projects, and continuing to identify ways to increase the use of technology and improve efficiencies within our transportation system, which are all components of the Governor’s proposed transportation package. Given the tremendous transportation needs that face the Commonwealth and the fact that transportation funding is a core government service that is the state’s responsibility to fund, the Partnership also supports the use of some General Fund money for transportation purposes.
In addition, the Partnership strongly supports completion of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to Washington Dulles International Airport and eastern Loudoun County, and securing additional state funding to reduce projected toll increase levels associated with the project, which this package would enable through the additional $300 million in state funding for Dulles Rail referenced in the Governor’s plan. This type of additional state investment is critical to the long-term economic development sustainability for the entire Commonwealth as well as reducing the burden Dulles Toll Road users will pay for Phase 2 of this infrastructure project.
It is critical to understand that new transportation infrastructure is an investment, not a cost, and historically Commonwealth spending on cost effective transportation projects, such as the Fairfax County Parkway, Route 28 and I-66 widening in northern Virginia, has yielded a direct return in new economic activity and tax revenues that greatly exceed Virginia’s initial investment. It is equally important to understand that failure to invest more in transportation will result in economic decline.
The Partnership believes the time to address this challenge is now and stands firm in its commitment to consider and support proposals that take significant steps toward addressing these needs, which impact our economic opportunity, ability to create and retain jobs, and overall quality of life for Virginia’s citizens.
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership believes Virginia should maintain a high level of financial and personnel resources to continue to enable an aggressive and comprehensive national and international marketing and outreach program that leverages the Commonwealth’s strongest economic assets, including industry sectors where Virginia possesses a clear competitive advantage.
The Partnership encourages the General Assembly to invest fully in the various business incentive programs to encourage business investment in Virginia. The Partnership supports continued funding of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) incentive programs, as well as maintenance of recent investments that have been made to the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and an emphasis on policies that broaden the eligibility requirements, enabling firms in Northern Virginia that increase local tax revenues to qualify for critical economic development incentives.
The Partnership also encourages the VEDP to continue its work to develop state incentive programs that focus on company retention and recruitment, and give greater priority within these incentive programs to encourage the creation of higher paying jobs, like those in Northern Virginia.
In addition to the initiatives outlined above, the Partnership strongly supports efforts to ensure that Virginia’s legal system is as business-friendly as possible, which is critical to the Commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain businesses. To this end, the Partnership is actively working as a member of the Virginia Alliance for Tort Reform (VATR), which is a coalition of Virginia businesses and advocacy organizations supporting pro-business reforms of Virginia’s civil justice system. The Partnership supports common sense reforms which will promote fairness, efficiency, and a more favorable business climate in Virginia. During these tough economic times, Virginia must do all that it can to strengthen its business environment through increased protections and make Virginia even more attractive for economic development.
As we consider how best to create a 21st century workforce, we must invest and focus on conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields.
The Partnership also recognizes that we cannot underestimate the importance of a globally competitive K-12 education system to our workforce development. The most important investment Virginia can make is in human capital. The jobs of the future and the ability of our businesses to compete rests in having a well-trained workforce. Beyond the skills and knowledge required of workers, we must be able to recruit the best and the brightest to Virginia and to do that, we need to offer the best schools to families looking to relocate. An excellent school should be a guarantee to every child. We all agree that every child deserves the chance to be college- or career-ready at graduation. Unfortunately, not every child in the Commonwealth is provided such an opportunity. Virginia must confront the inequities in our education system and ensure that all children have a chance for success.
This includes strengthening teaching in our classrooms, holding Virginia’s teachers to the highest standards, offering them regular opportunities to sharpen their skills, and rigorously evaluating and paying our teachers appropriately.
We also must inject greater innovation into education. The Partnership supports innovation in our classrooms and school divisions to ensure that our students are prepared at graduation for college or the workforce. Greater use of technology and consideration of charter schools to allow for greater flexibility with curriculum and student population are options that should be considered and utilized more often. We have one of the weakest charter school laws in the country and no real means for holding failing schools accountable. Innovation also occurs through the partnership of our post-secondary and secondary institutions through dual enrollment courses, which allow for college-level coursework for college credit while in high school or through the establishment of college lab schools. These are all initiatives Virginia should be supporting to enable greater innovation in the classroom.
The Partnership recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents. The Partnership supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families.
The Partnership recognizes the importance of the healthcare industry to the economy and the community, and supports federal and state reimbursement levels that do not harm providers or result in a shift of the payment burden to the private sector.
The Partnership is extremely concerned with the impact of federal healthcare reform legislation on the business community and urges careful consideration of the impact of any policy change or development of regulations in this arena. The Partnership specifically supports legislation that ensures access to affordable and stable group health insurance for all businesses, including sole proprietors and small businesses. The Partnership supports legislation that reduces state burdens and provides tax incentives to help small businesses offset the staggering increases in health insurance costs, including incentives that encourage participation in “consumer-driven” healthcare and wellness plans. We support initiatives that improve quality and lower costs, encourage fair regulation of the insurance market, build a robust healthcare marketplace for consumers, expand the use of healthcare IT, create an emphasis on prevention and wellness, and promote pay-for-performance.
The Partnership supports collaborative efforts between healthcare stakeholders, including providers, purchasers, insurers and consumers, to ensure continued innovation, creativity, and transformation in the healthcare marketplace. The goals of these efforts should include the following:
- Expansion of healthcare infrastructure (both inpatient and outpatient) to meet community needs;
- Increase in the supply of well-trained medical personnel;
- Effective management of healthcare costs impacting businesses;
- Promotion of workplace and community wellness initiatives;
- Increased accessibility of healthcare and insurance;
- Enhanced quality, choice, unbiased data transparency, and diminished redundancies and waste
in healthcare; and
- Appropriate planning for emergency preparedness and public-private partnerships to address
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