County sets its priorities for the legislative session

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2011

Prince William County government and school officials met with local legislators in November to discuss which bills they want the General Assembly to support in the upcoming session, which initiatives they support and which state actions they oppose.

Items on the county's and the school system's legislative agendas include:

Immigration

Prince William County officials support the implementation of immigration policies that mimic theirs in other localities across the commonwealth. Prince William's immigration policy requires police to inquire into the immigration status of all people who are arrested on suspicion of violating a state or local law.

Road construction

Prince William requests that the state start allocating matching funds to localities with road construction programs. The funds, county officials said, could leverage local investment and improve economic development.

Transportation

The county supports additional state and regional transportation funding for highways, transit, bicycle and pedestrian improvements. But county officials oppose diverting state general fund revenue from other areas, such as education and public safety, to fund transportation.

Businesses

Prince William wants the state to alter the Governor's Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives to businesses. County officials said they want to lower the threshold for how many people the company must employ to get funds from its current 100 people.

Police

The county supports the HB 599 program, which provides state aid to Virginia jurisdictions with police departments. The county requests that the state reinstate the 599 funds recently cut from the Prince William Police Department. In the past three fiscal years, the county has lost $2.5 million in 599 support, county officials said.

Base realignment

Prince William supports state and federal funding for infrastructure improvements that are needed to support the military base realignment and closure proceedings, which will bring almost 3,000 jobs to Quantico Marine Corps base this year. The county is urging the state to prioritize the Route 1/123 interchange project, which will alleviate congestion associated with BRAC.

Unfunded mandates

The county opposes unfunded mandates.

Schools

Prince William schools officials want the state to maintain funding for the implementation of the Standards of Quality at current levels or suspend the mandates. Schools officials also support the state giving school systems freedom from some of the more "burdensome" mandates.

The school system is also requesting continued funding under the local composite index, the complex formula used to determine the cost of education in each locality and how much should be covered by local government. The county is also asking the state not to delay revisions to the index. Delaying the revisions would cost the schools $22.5 million, schools officials said.

The county schools are also requesting continued funding for annual teacher salary increases and the cost-of-competing allocation for "region four" school systems. Prince William is one of 20 counties in region four, which covers northern and eastern Virginia, schools officials said.


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