GO Virginia Initiatives Clear Virginia Senate
RICHMOND – Legislation proposed by GO Virginia (www.govirginia.org) passed the Virginia Senate today with large bipartisan majorities.Â 85% of Senators voted to approve Senate Bill 449 one day after a similar majority adopted the companion bill, Senate Bill 459. The two bills are the centerpiece of GO Virginia’s proposal to create a new framework for strengthening the economy in each region of Virginia through enhanced collaboration by business, education, and local government encouraged and incentivized by the Commonwealth.
The Senate action means that both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly now have given the GO Virginia legislation broad bipartisan endorsement. Earlier in the week, more than 90 delegates in the 100-member House of Delegates approved parallel versions of the legislation (House Bills 834 and 846). Technical differences between the Senate and House versions of the bills will be resolved in the coming weeks. In the meantime, the budget-writing committees of the Senate and House of Delegates will consider funding levels for the regional incentive grants authorized in the legislation as well as other budget items backed by GO Virginia.
Speaking on the floor of the Virginia Senate in support of GO! Grants legislation, Senator Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City County), a chief patron of Senate Bill 449, emphasized the importance of voluntary regional cooperation on economic development. “The important thing to understand â€¦ is that these will be projects that come from the bottom up,” Norment said. “They will fit the needs of the particular region and will be designed by the business, education, and local government players in that region.”
“We are strongly encouraged by the broad, bipartisan endorsement of GO Virginia’s legislative agenda, evident in the strong affirmative votes in both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates this week,” said John O. “Dubby” Wynne, chairman of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and retired president and chief executive officer of Landmark Communications.Â “Members of the General Assembly understand that Virginia is a diverse state in which economic opportunities differ from region to region. Private-sector growth and job creation require an engaged business community, providing leadership and working in partnership with local governments and educational institutions in each region to seize those opportunities.”
About the GO Virginia legislation: The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act, authorizing the award of regional GO! Grants, is contained in House Bill 834 and Senate Bill 449.Â The grants would provide start-up funding, to be matched by local and private resources, for significant projects that boost private-sector growth, enhance efficiency, and reflect collaboration among business, education, and at least two local governments. Chief patrons are:Â Delegates M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Luke Torian (D-Prince William); Senators Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) and Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax).
The Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Act, embodied in House Bill 846 and Senate Bill 459, provides incentives for localities to initiate joint economic development activities rather than engaging in self-defeating competition that often wastes tax dollars. Chief patrons are:Â Delegates Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Matthew James (D-Portsmouth), and J. Randall Minchew (R-Loudoun); Senators Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-Mecklenburg) and Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax).
More information on the proposed legislation and the GO Virginia initiative can be found at www.govirginia.org.
About the GO Virginia coalition: The coalition is comprised of business and community leaders, partners in education and government, and interested Virginians from across the Commonwealth who support voluntary regional cooperation on private-sector growth, job creation, and career readiness.Â To date, over 80 business and community organizations have endorsed the GO Virginia legislation, and more than 8,000 individual Virginians have signed on via the coalition’s website. The bipartisan, business-led coalition favors state incentives to encourage collaboration among business, education, and government in each region, providing a framework for implementation of the private sector-focused strategies of leading business organizations and political leaders in both parties. To learn more and join the coalition, visit www.govirginia.org.