Summer is in full swing and unfortunately rain, storms, flooding, and hazardous road conditions have plagued the region. We even saw evidence of a tornado touch down on July 24 at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. I am thankful that we are still a month away from the start of school and there were no injuries.
Developing the workforce pipeline that keeps us competitive in a global economy is essential. While the Leader of the Free World met with the nemesis to this country, our governor was on a trade mission to keep Virginia’s exports up while navigating a tariff war. I stand with Governor Northam and applaud his efforts to keep the Commonwealth positioned on the world stage.
For the past several months, I have been visiting with neighbors throughout the 35th Senate District. Thank you for the warm reception you have given me. It is gratifying to know we are working on the state issues that matter most to our community. Expanding on the multimodal transit facilities that enhance our quality of life and keep our economy moving are things we must invest into with our combined resources. The VRS and Metro take away a lane and a half of traffic off of I-395 and I-95 each day from the grinding commute in our region. Medicaid expansion has been an effort we have worked toward for nearly five years. That effort brings hope and access to medical care for our most vulnerable citizens. Thank you for your support of these major efforts. Together, we can and we did!
Wherever I go in the 35th Senate District, a common thread aired is the concern for our nation — its role on the world stage, the treatment of immigrants and children by this administration, and the growing list of indictments of individuals close to this administration. I am happy we have Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine along with our Congressional delegation there as a backstop. No doubt in my mind, the midterm elections in November are critical to the path we embrace going forward. I encourage you to support Tim Kaine, our former governor and incumbent senator in his re-election bid. We need thoughtful and compassionate leaders now more than ever.
One issue that has come to my attention recently is the Department of Social Services issuance of new regulations for preschool staff. It seems like volunteer co-ops are in the crosshairs of the proverbial double-edged sword. As of this writing we have been working on a compromise that should address the problem at hand without putting up insurmountable hurdles for the co-op model(s) in the Commonwealth and specifically in our region. The ink is not quite dry on those measures, so stay tuned.
I must also call attention to Governor Northam’s formation of the Work Group on Student Safety comprised of educators, public safety officials, mental health practitioners, and community partners. It’s an unfortunate sign of the times that a group like this is needed, but I applaud the Governor’s proactive approach and look forward to the group’s recommendations on Oct. 1.
Virginia is fortunate to have recognized an unofficial FY 2018 surplus of nearly $553 million. With an eye on being good stewards of your tax dollars, it’s expected that more than $200 million will be deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund and more than $55 million to the Water Quality Improvement Fund. The majority of the remaining monies will be saved in the Revenue Reserve Fund.
As I’ve mentioned in my e-newsletter and on my social media accounts, major lane closures will continue to affect I-395 between the Springfield Interchange and D.C. line for the next few weekends (Friday night through early Monday morning). If you would like to sign up for these updates visit www.DickSaslaw.com or check out @DickSaslaw on Twitter.
Finally, Virginia’s annual sales tax holiday starts Friday, Aug. 3, and continues through Sunday, Aug. 5. School supplies, clothing, and shoe purchases will all be tax-free during the weekend. Additionally, hurricane preparedness supplies, generators that cost less than $1,000, and Energy Star or WaterSense products (such as window unit air conditioners or hot water heaters) that cost less than $2,500 will also be tax-free.
Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at [email protected]