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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Education, job bills killed in House money committee
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Sen. Bill Stanley

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

Four education and job bills designed to stimulate growth in the local economy were killed by the House Appropriations Committee before the General Assembly adjourned earlier this month.

One bill would have established a financial incentive of $1,000 for a student to complete a certificate or license program.

The bill, (SB628) copatroned by Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill), would have provided the incentive to students to enroll in any community college and successfully complete an industry-recognized certification or license in a high demand field.

As with any proposed legislation that has a fiscal impact on the state budget, the bill was forwarded to the Appropriations Committee after passing the Senate and House Education Committee.

With an estimated $7.5 million appropriation from the general fund each year required to support the plan, the committee killed the bill.

"I am very disappointed," Stanley said. "This bill focused on trades as an important part of our economic development. Developing these skillsets in the near term is critical to marketing our region as the place for new businesses to set up shop."

Another of Stanley's bills that would have provided a $5,000 grant to teachers who relocate to schools where at least 40 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch or schools in localities with a population of 50,000 or less was also killed by the House money committee.

If passed, the legislation would have cost an estimated $1 million each year, a limit imposed by the bill, beginning in 2015-16.

"This bill was not even given a hearing in Appropriations," Stanley said. "But I will bring the bill back next year."

Another bill that would have established a grant program for donations made by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) organizations to qualified schools was also left in the House Appropriations Committee, due to possible fiscal impact for the administration of the fund.

The bill (SB107) defined "qualified schools" as those with at least 40 percent of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

The donations would have been used to support STEM programs in qualified schools, and grants would have been capped at $50,000 per organization each year.

"Again, Appropriations did not even give this bill a hearing," Stanley said. "I am very disappointed."

"This bill would have created a partnership between private industry and the state government that would have allowed direct contributions to public schools in our region," said Stanley. "Improvements in the schools' STEM programs would advance technical and vocational trade education in our area."

And lastly, Stanley's bill (SB106) to establish a Building Revitalization Grant Fund to award grants of up to $100,000 to businesses that make a capital investment of $1 million in revitalizing or retrofitting existing buildings to serve as a new place of business was also killed in Appropriations.

The new program would have required $27,500 from the general fund each year to hire a part-time employee to develop and manage the program, according to the fiscal impact statement. Also, a funding source for the grants was not identified in the proposed legislation, although the awards would have been capped at $600,000 outstanding at any time.

"As with any new idea, these bills will take time to pass in the General Assembly," Stanley said. "I will introduce each of these bills again next year."

"Perseverance is the name of the game," he added.

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