Governor Bob McDonnell announced today his package of government reform bills that will be introduced during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. Many of the proposals stem from the ongoing work of the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring. Among the proposals included in the package are the Governor's previously announced broad reforms to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS); the consolidation of the various Inspectors General into a State Inspector General to investigate government fraud, waste and abuse in state government; the consolidation of official reports; increased transparency and ease of use in the accessing of state spending information; and the elimination and consolidation of multiple boards and commissions. While the Governor will advance a number of proposals through legislative means, other suggestions will be implemented administratively. Governor McDonnell will issue an Executive Directive advising secretariats, agencies, and state employees to comply with many of the recommendations found in the Government Reform report, officially submitted in December, and other good government initiatives next week.
Speaking about the government reform proposals, the Governor noted, "Since taking office we have reduced state spending to 2006 levels and launched a comprehensive effort to fundamentally reform state government to make it smaller and more efficient. That effort is reflected in the government reform legislation we are putting forward this session. We must fix our Virginia Retirement System and move it closer to long-term solvency, a long overdue reform. Our reforms will put an additional $300 million into the system every year, $4.2 billion over the next decade, to the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who are depending upon our retirement system for future financial security. This major step will require shared contributions from the employees and the state. We must act now. We will also move forward on our proposal to establish an Inspector General who will help identify and eliminate waste and inefficiencies in state government. We will eliminate or consolidate boards and commissions that duplicate efforts, or are not an efficient use of limited state resources. We will increase transparency in state spending to ensure that Virginia taxpayers know exactly what their hard earned dollars are going towards. We must create a government that is limited and effective; efficient and transparent. We are committed to doing that during this Administration."
Fred Malek, Chairman of the Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring, noted, "The Commission's initial 133 recommendations to reduce government, improve efficiency, and save costs represent a good first step. These recommendations, when implemented, will significantly augment day-to-day operations of state government. The Governor's legislative package includes many important initiatives and I look forward to addressing a broad array of even more impactful issues as we continue the work of the commission this spring."
Speaker of the House of Delegates, William J. Howell (R- Stafford) remarked, "Hundreds of thousands of Virginians will depend upon the Virginia Retirement System for their financial security in the years ahead. It is imperative that lawmakers take significant steps today to ensure the solvency of that system in the future. Governor McDonnell's VRS reform proposals are both timely and necessary. They will generate over $300 million a year for the system, which is crucial funding that will help reduce the unfunded liability faced by all retirees, and begin to move Virginia's public pension system towards a more dependable and sustainable position. I also support defined contribution plans, which are what most working Virginians already have in the private sector. Altogether, the Governor's multi-faceted plan is a bold one and comes at the right time for General Assembly action in the 2011 Session. Failure to act now will crowd out future funding for K-12 education, public safety and other core responsibilities of state government."
Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), who serves on the Government Reform Commission, noted, "Virginians expect their government to continue to innovate, cut costs and improve service delivery. Particularly during this historic economic downturn, we must prioritize and find ways to reduce the size and scope of government. The governor's legislation that I will be patroning will consolidate the number of reports that agencies file to the General Assembly. This is a good government initiative and I look forward to working with Governor McDonnell and other members of the Commission in the coming months and years to continue this important work."
Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington) remarked, "In tight economic times, it's especially important that we do all we can to ensure that government operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. And it is vital that we maintain trust in government by making it accessible and transparent. The Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring has taken several important steps toward these goals, and I look forward to additional progress in the coming years."
Governor McDonnell's 2011 Government Reform Legislation:
* Reform Virginia's Retirement System (VRS) by requiring all state employees to contribute the employee share of 5% to their retirement plans. The reforms will put over $300 million in additional funds into the VRS system in FY 2012 alone and will add $4.2 Billion over the next 10 years. The employee contributions will be matched with a 3% pay raise. To learn more about this proposal from the official December rollout, please visit: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=524 . Delegate Putney (I-Bedford), and Senator Watkins (R-Chesterfield) and Senator Stosch (R-Henrico) will be co-chief patrons in the Senate.
* Consolidate disparate positions into one central, independent agency and transform the State's Internal Auditor into an Inspector General with enhanced authority to proactively pursue complaints concerning fraud, waste and abuse in state government. Delegate Landes (R-Weyers Cave), co-patron Delegate Brink (D-Arlington), and Senator Stosch (R-Henrico)
* Establish a telework tax credit for Virginia employers. Delegate Comstock (R-Fairfax) and Senator Herring (D-Loudoun)
* Public procurement; posting on website. Requires all state agencies and regional bodies to put requests for proposal and invitations to bid on the Department of General Services' website. The bill defines regional public body. Delegate Iaquinto (R-Virginia Beach)
* Provide that whenever a state agency sends any mail or notice by certified mail, and such mail or notice is sent certified mail, return receipt requested, then any additional mail or notice that is sent by such state agency pertaining to the same subject matter and purpose may be sent by regular mail. Delegate Garrett (R-Lynchburg)
* Change the certified and registered mail requirements for notices by local government to allow notice via regular mail to the last address available through government records, most importantly for mailings following the first notice. Delegate Garrett (R-Lynchburg)
* Provide that citizen members of boards, committees, councils, or other collegial bodies, who are appointed at the state level, who receive three or more travel reimbursements annually shall be required to participate in the Electronic Data Interchange Program administered by the Department of Accounts as a condition of accepting such appointment. The bill provides that the requirement applies only to such citizen members who are appointed or reappointed on or after July 1, 2011. Delegate Keam (D-Fairfax)
* Provide that the Department of Planning and Budget, in consultation with the Department of Accounts, shall require all agencies of the Commonwealth to participate to the fullest extent feasible in the Payroll Service Bureau operated by the Department of Accounts. Delegate Comstock (R-Fairfax)
* Provide that the assessment of mandates imposed on local government currently required include a detailed cost-benefit analysis and utilization of performance-based metrics to determine the value of the mandate in relation to the required or intended output or desired result. Senator Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) and Delegate Byron (R-Campbell)
* Reform and simplify employee leave programs. Delegate Comstock (R-Fairfax)
* Remove membership requirement from certain associations. Delegate LeMunyon (R-Fairfax)
* Facilitate the transfer of the administration of the gross premiums on certain insurance companies by calling for a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Taxation and the SCC in order to transfer the responsibility for processing insurance premiums tax returns. Senator Stosch (R-Henrico)
* Amend the code section to authorize the use of inmate labor at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System. Delegate Anderson (R-Prince William)
* Consolidate the collection of the Wireless E-911 surcharge under the Department of Taxation. Senator Stosch (R-Henrico)
* Transfer the administration of the motor vehicle rental tax from DMV to the Department of Taxation. Delegate Brink (D-Arlington) and Senator Stosch (R-Henrico)
* Pass a bill to repeal certain sections of the Code concerning K-12 education that have never been implemented, or that have long since been discontinued, due to lack of funding. This proposal will clarify the Code by eliminating outdated sections and updating sections with obsolete language. Delegate D. Bell (R- Staunton)
* Legislation to authorize state executive branch agencies to develop one consolidated report for submission instead of multiple reports. Such report shall be (i) formatted in compliance with the specific reporting requirements and (ii) provided in a manner designed to clearly delineate each legislative branch entity for which information is provided. Senator McDougle (R-Hanover)
* Consolidate Department of Conservation and Recreation Code required water quality reports into the Secretary of Natural Resources impaired waters clean-up plan progress reports. Delegate Poindexter (R-Franklin)
* Raise threshold for projects that can be approved administratively. This legislation raises the threshold for subaqueous projects that may be handled administratively, resulting in quicker agency processing time, which would benefit applicants. Delegate Knight (R-Virginia Beach)
* Eliminate advisory committee on veterans care centers since the Veterans Care Center Advisory Committee has not met for almost two years and the functions of the committee are duplicated by the Care Centers Committee of the Board of Veterans Services. Senator J. Miller (D-Newport News)
* Consolidate three Northern Virginia transportation organizations, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), into one entity. Delegate Albo (R-Fairfax)
* Enable the Rail Enhancement funds to match federal funds, abolishes the Rail Advisory Board. Delegate Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)
* Special license plates; fleet vehicles of businesses. Provides for the issuance of special license plates for fleet vehicles of business entities. The bill provides that these plates have their own fee structure and criteria for issuance. Delegate Brink (D-Arlington)
* Eliminate certain boards and commissions. Delegate Peace (R-Hanover)
* Establish process by which certain businesses could apply for and receive specialized license plates without individual action by the General Assembly. Delegate Brink (D-Arlington)
* Eliminate requirement that localities establish local disability services boards and abolishes Disability Services Council and Rehabilitative Services Incentive Fund. Delegate Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and Senator Ruff (D-Clarksville)
*Note: Bill numbers will be assigned when each piece of legislation is formally submitted.