Q1 2018 Newsletter

Q1 2018 Newsletter

Virginia Natural Resources Funding Tied Up in Budget Stalemate

The 2018 General Assembly adjourned its regular session on March 10 without having adopted a new two-year budget. That means VIRGINIAforever’s aims for increased funding for land conservation and water quality also are unresolved.

The House of Delegates and Senate are in a standoff over whether to expand Medicaid. That’s a more than $400 million question. Until that major conflict is resolved, all other differences between the House and Senate budget versions cannot be hammered out – including natural resources funding.

When the General Assembly adjourned on March 10, the House and Senate budget versions were a mixed bag for VIRGINIAforever. The House and Senate cut at least $3.0 million for the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, and the Senate cut $2.0 million from the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The Senate approved $20 million for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, but the House did not. And both the House and Senate budgets maintained funding for the Agriculture Cost Share program, with the Senate also approving a new funding mechanism to help stabilize funding for Ag BMPs.

Clearly, though, among VIRGINIAforever priorities, it was funding for land conservation that was hurt the most.

Governor Ralph Northam has called the General Assembly back into session on April 11 so legislators can renew their work to adopt a new 2018-2020 budget.

VIRGINIAforever’s budget priorities for the April 11 special session are these:

  • Land Conservation. – Restoring $4.5 million to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund – as recommended in the Governor’s original budget – to preserve forestlands, working farmlands, historical lands, and open spaces. Also, restore the $2.0 million cut from VOF.
  • Stormwater Funding. – Authorizing $20 million in Virginia Public Building Authority bonds for the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund to help localities tackle urban and suburban runoff.
  • Agricultural BMPs. – Maintaining funding for the Ag Cost Share program and Technical Assistance as recommended in the Governor’s budget. Also, allowing unrefunded marine fuel sales taxes to be deposited into the Water Quality Improvement Reserve Fund to help stabilize funding for Ag BMP practices.

VIRGINIAforever’s business, environmental, and outdoors enthusiasts should stay engaged with House and Senate budget negotiators to encourage support for these important land conservation and water quality priorities.

VIRGINIAforever Welcomes New Members

In the first quarter of 2018, VIRGINIAforever welcomed the following new members:

  • AMT Engineering, represented by Ginny Snead on the general board
  • Wetland Studies and Solutions, represented by Mike Rolband on the general board

In other board member news, the following changes have taken effect:

  • Virginia Association for Parks (VAFP) is now represented on the executive board by VAFP president Tim Kennell
  • Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) is now represented on the general board by CRLC president Brian Watson

For information on becoming a member of VIRGINIAforever, please contact Info@virginiaforever.org.

VIRGINIAforever Initiates Emeritus Board to Recognize Members Who Have Served with Distinction

To honor former board members who served with distinction and excellence, VIRGINIAforever has initiated an Emeritus Board.  Carol Wampler, who has been a member of the VIRGINIAforever executive board since the organization’s inception and a former committee chair, and Johnny Finch, former president of the Virginia Association for Parks and a long-standing member of the VIRGINIAforever executive board, were unanimously approved as the inaugural Emeritus Board members.  Thank you to Carol and Johnny for your leadership and significant contributions to VIRGINIAforever.

VIRGINIAforever to Participate in 2018 Environment Virginia Symposium

Each year, the environmental and business communities convene at the state’s premiere natural resources meeting – Environment Virginia.  Hosted by Virginia Military Institute, the symposium features presentations highlighting trends and news impacting the Commonwealth’s land, water and air. This year, VIRGINIAforever members, along with several partners, will participate in a presentation and panel titled “Virginia Natural Resources Funding.”

Moderated by VIRGINIAforever lobbyist Missy Neff and led by Jim Regimbal of Fiscal Analytics, the presentation will focus on a study commissioned in 2017 by VIRGINIAforever with a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment.  The study found that Virginia has been spending about one percent of available state revenues on natural resources, ranking near the bottom when compared to other states. VIRGINIAforever’s summary and assessment of the report can be found here and the full report can be viewed here.

Panelists include Pamela Faggert of Dominion Energy; Matt Wells of WestRock; Peggy Sanner of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; and Joseph Maroon of the Virginia Environmental Endowment. Learn more about Environment Virginia here.

Reminder: “Like” VIRGINIAforever on Facebook!

VIRGINIAforever is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ourlandourwater.   “Like” our page to stay in touch about VIRGINIAforever announcements as well as natural resources funding news from across the Commonwealth.  You are encouraged to “share” and “comment” on our content.