Funding Core Services, Transportation Top Arlington's 2013 Legislative Agenda
County also asks lawmakers to protect rights of women, elderly and immigrants.
The Arlington County Board wants the Virginia General Assembly to restore millions in local funding cut over the past five years and to force online travel companies like Expedia.com to pay their fair share of state and local taxes during the 2013 session.
The county, too, has asked local legislators to oppose any efforts in Richmond to implement any Arizona-like immigration reform measures and to criminalize the financial exploitation of older or vulnerable adults.
The board gave its final approval Tuesday to its 2013 legislative priorities, which it hopes to see realized during the General Assembly session that begins Jan. 9. The General Assembly will be in session for less than two months this year; it is scheduled to adjourn Feb. 23.
For the fifth consecutive year, state lawmakers will return to Richmond facing weak revenue growth and increasing costs. The General Assembly's primary focus will be in balancing the state budget, though increases to transportation funding and tax reform could be on the table.
“The health of the Commonwealth’s economy is tied to that of the localities’,” Arlington County Board Chairwoman Mary Hynes said in a recent statement. “If the localities are doing well, the state will do well.”
State funding to localities has steadily decreased over the past five years. In Arlington, the state has cut $7.2 million to core services, affecting the library system, public safety and the judicial system, and the county's Department of Human Services.
Arlington is joining cities and counties along the Interstate 95 and I-64 corridors in supporting the creation of a new, permanent and reliable source of transportation funding. The county will advocate for at least $3 billion annually to support operations and maintenance of the state's existing transportation and transit infrastructure.
Among the county's remaining 2013 legislative priorities:
- Remove language from the budget that requires the county to share money generated from fines and fees with the state.
- Give localities more control the benefits they offer; Arlington has long sought the power to provide benefits to its employees with same-sex partners.
- Support enhanced domestic violence programs, including the expansion of mental health resources for children exposed to domestic and teen dating violence.
- Support jail diversion programs for people with mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Continue to fund water supply and quality programs for the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
- Give localities the financial tools needed to implement environmental sustainability programs and policies.
- Ensure women have access to reproductive health services and the right to make reproductive health care decisions.
- Oppose efforts to dismantle or repeal the federal Affordable Care Act.
- Require nursing homes and long-term care facilities to have backup generators sufficient to serve patient or resident needs during power outages.