Alexandria government officials’ discomfort with the prevailing political winds in Virginia is evident in its legislative agenda for the upcoming General Assembly session.
The City Council set out 27 issues — including transportation funding, eminent domain and employment discrimination — it would like to see addressed by the state government. They include:
The General Assembly in 2009 required local governments to send money to Richmond to help deal with a budget shortage. That cost Alexandria $1.1 million in fiscal year 2010 and will cost about $2.5 million for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. “The state should never have balanced its budget on the backs of local governments, and now that state revenues have improved, this program should be discontinued,” the city’s legislative agenda says.
Full funding is sought for the state’s share of state-local programs, including human services, social services, mental health programs, local law enforcement, schools and jails. Any reductions in the ability of local governments to raise revenues, such as the business-professional-occupational license taxes, should be opposed.
The need for transit, road construction and maintenance keeps rising, but revenues are deteriorating, the city says. It does not want Virginia to shift the cost of street and highway maintenance to the city; it wants to be sure to receive dedicated revenue to meet federal matching requirements for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and it doesn’t want new transportation funds coming from other core services, such as education and public safety. The city wants the ability to increase the gas tax and retail sales tax to pay for high-capacity transit corridors and asks the state transportation board to make funding such corridors a priority.
The city opposes the currently proposed constitutional amendment that would alter the law regarding eminent domain, which it deems “far-reaching and expensive, and includes unintended consequences.” Most troubling to the city is a provision that allows property owners to sue for lost profits and lost access and another provision that prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development. If it passes the General Assembly, it will go on the ballot in November.
Alexandria wants full funding of the Virginia AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which it deems insufficiently funded to meet the needs of low-income residents who can’t buy medications through health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. The city also says any adult couple should be able to adopt a child, and the Virginia Human Rights Act should be amended to ban hiring or employment discrimination, including age bias, for any employer with five or more employees. It also wants a law to bar workplace discrimination against state employees, including discrimination against gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender residents.
The city’s full set of recommendations can be found at http://dockets.alexandriava.gov/fy11/112211rm/di17.pdf.