Valley Delegates Gather to Talk Business & Budget Shortfalls
For several months we've heard local governments across our viewing area blaming the state for their budget shortfalls, but Shenandoah Valley members of the General Assembly say there's plenty of blame to go around.
The Augusta Chamber of Commerce gathered delegates Dickie Bell, Ben Cline and Steve Landes and Senator Emmett Hanger to talk business in a recovering economy. But the delegation also vented some frustration over funding for public schools.
The lawmakers told business owners and managers about new programs to employ veterans and improve access to small-business loans. But they also point out that state revenues need time to catch up from four years of stagnation.
This year the General Assembly had local governments put more money into the Virginia Retirement System, something they call a needed step to recovery.
25th District Delegate Steve Landes (R) said, "We weren't funding the VRS at the levels that we should have been. That was a mistake. The localities benefited from that because they weren't paying their share at that point either. The state and the locality have to bear the responsibility."
Public school divisions have loudly blamed the state for funding shortage, but Delegate Bell says support for education has increased over the past two years.
Voters will have a chance to question all four members of the Shenandoah Valley delegation during a town hall forum on Thursday night. It takes place at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton at 7:00.
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