Prince William County asks state to fund priorities

Prince William County officials are asking the General Assembly to not slash funds for roads, to adequately finance local schools and to support higher education centers, among other issues.

When lawmakers convene in Richmond on Wednesday, Prince William officials are asking its state delegation to keep the county’s priorities in mind. Among those outlined in a November report:

Transportation

Along with other Northern Virginia areas, Prince William is asking for an increase in funding of roads. As state funding dwindles, a long-range transportation study estimated that the area will need $700 million per year to address transportation issues. The county has funded 23 Virginia road projects over the past 22 years but opposes state efforts to push maintenance costs to localities. If the county were to assume the responsibility, it would mean a “significant tax increase” in homeowner taxes, according to the report.

About 21,000 new jobs were relocated to the Marine Corps base at Quantico. The relocation is expected to bring more traffic and strain to roads. The county is asking for state and federal dollars to support expanding nearby Route 1, among other improvements.

The county also seeks state funding to build a road that would allow better access to Dulles International Airport.

Education

The county’s 81,000-student school system has struggled to keep pace with an increasing student population. County officials anticipate that the schools will need to hire 8,000 teachers over the next 10 years and plans to add 12 schools at a cost of more than $1 billion. County officials are asking, among other requests, that the state allocate funds to build schools, keep pace with state benchmarks for test scores and continue to fund annual teacher salary increases.

Illegal immigration

For a second year, the county is asking the General Assembly to adopt statewide its illegal immigration policies. The policy, which prompted widespread protest in Prince William and elsewhere when adopted in 2007, directs local police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested and to work with federal law enforcement about whether deportation is warranted.

Economic Development

The county would like state lawmakers to support its economic development strategy involving universities. George Mason University wants the state to partially fund a new life sciences building on its Prince William campus, and the county supports the university’s request for $3.2 million.

Similarly, the county supports Northern Virginia Community College’s request for $35 million in state funds to establish a Workforce Development Center in Woodbridge.

Other items

The county and other localities statewide said they need a significant amount of money to meet federal requirements for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order mandating a quicker cleanup of the long-polluted waterway by 2017. Among other requests, Prince William would like to receive more funding for state-funded psychiatric beds, to increase the penalty for illegally placed signs and to offer legislation that helps residents cancel subscriptions to free publications that can accumulate on doorsteps.

Jeremy Borden covers Prince William County, Va., for The Washington Post.
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