Gov. Bob McDonnell addressed the NVTC Board of Directors at LMI in McLean on Wednesday, January 18, at the first NVTC Board meeting of 2012. The Governor, who was joined at the meeting by Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey and Secretary of Commerce & Trade Jim Cheng, discussed the overall economic state of Virginia, his proposed budget and efforts to address potential federal spending cuts impacting Virginia’s defense sector.
|Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey, NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and NVTC Vice Chair Jim Sheaffer at the January 18 meeting.|
The governor began by addressing the looming Defense Department cuts and the executive orders he has issued creating work groups to consider how to reduce the impact of potential cuts on Virginia’s defense assets. In addition, Gov. McDonnell proposed a Federal Action Contingency Trust (FACT) Fund to help the Commonwealth handle the impacts of federal spending cuts, and he bolstered cash reserves by doubling the Rainy Day Fund to more than $600 million by the end of fiscal 2014.
Gov. McDonnell also discussed his focus on economic development, explaining the need to invest in Virginia’s core competencies, such as technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, defense contracting and advanced manufacturing. He requested another $40 million for economic development during this General Assembly, including $2 million for advanced manufacturing training, and $4 million for the growing commercial space industry at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore. Other sectors he hopes to grow include cybersecurity and modeling and simulation.
The governor cited education as another of his top priorities, asserting its importance in economic development and job creation. He has requested $243 million in new funds for higher education, which includes funding for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health care (STEM-H) fields. Gov. McDonnell also requested $498 million in new money to go to K-12 education, including funding for incentives to recruit STEM teachers and to cover the Commonwealth’s teacher retirement plans.
Gov. McDonnell closed his remarks discussing Virginia’s transportation needs. He has proposed increasing the portion of sales tax receipts that go to the Commonwealth’s transportation fund from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent over the next eight years. Increasing the portion of sales tax revenue going to transportation to 0.55 percent in the next fiscal year would generate more than $110 million in new transportation maintenance dollar, according to the governor. Gov. McDonnell also addressed the Dulles Rail Project, stating the importance of getting the project done on-budget, on-time, and discussed the necessity for Virginia to hold more seats in the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
The meeting ended with a question and answer session, in which Gov. McDonnell addressed questions about increasing space tourism at the Wallops Island Space Flight Facility, Internet sales tax and pension reform. He also requested input from NVTC Board members on how to leverage the FACT Fund to alleviate the impact of federal defense downsizing by transferring Virginia companies’ skillsets to commercial markets.