Virginia Senate Bill Would Give Tax Credit for Donations to STEM Programs

A bill patroned by Senators Bill Stanley and Frank Ruff and Delegate David Ramadan would give a tax credit for a donation to a STEM program at a qualified school. The Virginia Small Business Partnership has recognized the need for more STEM graduates in its annual summits, and supports any efforts intended to bolster STEM programs in the Commonwealth. You can read a summary of the bill and link to the bill’s full text here.

Governor McDonnell Announces Plan to Eliminate State Gas Tax

From the Governor’s Office:

“RICHMOND – With legislators and transportation leaders by his side, Governor Bob McDonnell announced today a plan that would provide more than $3.1 billion in transportation funding for the Commonwealth over the next 5 years, tying transportation funding to economic growth and replacing the state’s outdated gas tax revenue model with a 0.8 percent increase in the state’s sales tax dedicated to transportation. The proposal would make Virginia the first state in the nation to eliminate the state tax on gasoline, allocates additional general funds to transportation, capitalizes on revenues being lost on out-of-state sales, and creates a long-term revenue system to fund Virginia’s highway, rail and transit needs. Virginia’s current transportation maintenance funding shortfall means that in FY 2013 $364 million must be transferred from the state’s construction account to pay for road maintenance. That transfer amount is anticipated to grow to $500 million by FY 2019 unless new funding is provided. In short, Virginia has to use money meant for construction for paving and potholes. The governor’s plan fixes the problem by generating $844 million in new funding per year for transportation by FY 2018, eliminating the state maintenance crossover and contributing to construction, rail, transit and other priorities. By eliminating crossover and with proposed revenue growth, this plan provides an additional $1.8 billion for highway construction over the next 5 years.”

Read the rest of the press release and get more details on the governor’s proposal here.

Virginia Uranium Mining Wins First Legislative Test « CBS DC

CBS DC reports that the Virginia Commission on Coal and Energy voted 11-2 (with abstentions) in favor of Sen. John Watkins’ proposal to allow the Coles Hill uranium deposit to be mined. Read the full story by following the link…

Virginia Uranium Mining Wins First Legislative Test « CBS DC.

Delegate Hugo to Introduce Major Transportation Funding Legislation

From Delegate Tim Hugo’s office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 27, 2012
Contact: Dean Goodson
Phone: (703) 815-1201

Fairfax, VA – Delegate Tim Hugo (VA-40) today announced that he will be introducing a transportation funding bill that will address the immediate transportation needs of the Commonwealth of Virginia while remaining revenue neutral.

Delegate Hugo said, “There is no question that funding for Virginia’s transportation needs is sorely lacking. Immediate action is necessary to prevent the Commonwealth from running out of funds in FY2017 for the construction of new transportation infrastructure projects.”

Hugo stated that, “The purchasing power from the state gas sales tax is going to continue to erode due to 1) the increased use of alternative-fuel vehicles, 2) federal CAFE standards reaching 54.5 mpg by 2025 and 3) the conversion of corporate fleets from gasoline/diesel to untaxed natural gas.”
“Indexing and/or increasing the state gas sales tax are short-term fixes in addressing Virginia’s significant transportation needs. We need to think of innovative new means to fund transportation that do not gouge the taxpaying public,” said Hugo.

Upon becoming law, Delegate Hugo’s proposal will provide almost $500 million more to transportation and halt the decline in transportation trust fund revenues. Hugo stated, “This bill will ‘stop the bleeding’ of the Transportation Trust Fund and allocate almost half a billion dollars more for transportation in Virginia; without increasing taxes.”
Delegate Hugo’s bill contains two parts:

1) Eliminates – in its entirety — the current 17.5-cent state motor fuels tax and offset those revenues with a 0.9% increase in the states sales and use tax. This tax reform proposal to eliminate the gas tax would be the first of its kind in the nation.

The revenues lost from the fuels tax would be replaced dollar for dollar by the 0.9% increase in the state sales and use tax. Thus, the state and local sales tax in Virginia would be adjusted from 5.0% to 5.9%.

The change in the sales tax rate will apply only to those items currently subject to the 5% rate. If successful, this tax reform component of the bill would be the first
measure to halt the hemorrhaging of Virginia’s transportation trust fund and stabilize its revenue stream for decades.

2) Allocates an additional 0.5% of the undesignated state retail sales tax revenue that is not currently earmarked for a specific program to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund.

Over the term of the McDonnell Administration, the maintenance deficit (money taken from construction projects to simply maintain our roads) has averaged $488.7 million per year. Under Governor McDonnell, the combined annual revenue surpluses and agency year-end balances have averaged $465.5 million. The allocation of an additional 0.5% of the undesignated state retail sales tax revenue totals almost half a billion dollars. Thus, this prioritizing of surplus money can largely eliminate the transportation maintenance deficit.

Virginia would upfront allocate an amount roughly equal to our recent surpluses to transportation maintenance. Given that this money is derived from surplus revenues, it will not impact other vital programs funded by the Commonwealth.

Hugo acknowledged that there are some who might object to the use of general funds for transportation but stated, “The construction and maintenance of Virginia’s roads and bridges are core functions of government that must – finally — be treated as such.”

Delegate Hugo continued, “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly in passing this legislation that will ‘stop the bleeding’ of the transportation trust fund and allocate almost half a billion dollars more to fix Virginia’s transportation problems. I am hopeful that Governor McDonnell will use my legislation as the platform to overhaul Virginia’s transportation funding mechanism.”

As the third ranking member in the Virginia House of Delegates leadership, Delegate Hugo currently serves as the Majority Caucus Chairman for the House Republican Caucus. He is the Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee and also serves on the Commerce and Labor, Transportation, and Privileges and Election Committees. Delegate Hugo represents Centreville, Clifton, Fairfax, and Fairfax Station in Fairfax County as well as Catharpin, Gainesville, Haymarket, and Manassas in Prince William County.

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Tips on Navigating the Business Credit Market

Tips on Navigating the Business Credit Market (click on the link for a PDF)

In these difficult financial times, credit is less available and more tightly controlled than in years past. Because of that reality, small business owners must develop strategies to position themselves for successful business credit requests.

The leadership at Chain Bridge Bank offers the following insights for small business owners seeking credit for their businesses.

What does your banker consider when reviewing a business credit request?

  • Liquidity, liquidity, liquidity
  • Regularity of revenues
  • Sustainability of margins
  • Consistency of expenses

What are keys to success in today’s business environment?

  • Sufficient cash resources
  • A strategy that is nimble and can adapt to a rapidly changing business environment
  • A focus on business development
  • An honest consideration of different financial scenarios: best, most likely, and worst case
  • One, two, and three-year plans that are updated quarterly

But perhaps the most important thing for small business owners to remember is that working with a banker is like working with a client: relationships matter. A banker who serves as a trusted advisor—who is informed early and often of decisions that might pertain to the business’s financial needs—is a banker that can best provide that business with the unique financial solutions necessary for its success.

Governor McDonnell Welcomes AWEA Offshore Windpower Conference to Virginia Beach

From the Office of the Governor:

– Industry Gathering Works to Advance Growing Movement to Develop Offshore Wind Energy –

RICHMOND-Governor Bob McDonnell welcomed the 2012 American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower Conference and Exhibition. The AWEA Conference brings together exhibitors and attendees from all over the world who are interested in becoming players in this new and highly promising market. The event is being held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center Oct. 9-11.

“Virginia continues to demonstrate that it is the Energy Capital of the East Coast, with our bountiful coalfields, strong nuclear industry, favorable regulator environment and our potential to lead the nation in offshore wind energy development,” Governor McDonnell said. “Manufacturers, suppliers, developers, operators, policy makers, utility representatives and thought leaders of the wind industry from around the world will assembly in Virginia Beach this week to discuss how the offshore market can expand through development opportunities along the coastal regions of the United States. Virginia leads the way in these potential sites with our ample offshore winds, shallow offshore waters, and ready supply of the shipping, manufacturing and high tech industries and workforce in Hampton Roads. The Commonwealth will continue to be a leader in the development of this promising source of renewable energy.”

Virginia’s offshore winds continue to be a focus of the developing offshore wind industry. In February 2012, the Bureau of Ocean energy Management (BOEM) released the long-awaited call for nominations and information for the Virginia lease blocks. In March 2012, BOEM received eight comments on the call. BOEM will soon announce details of the competitive auction process.

Governor McDonnell’s FY13 Executive Budget included $500,000 for research and data collection to assist and accelerate private development of Virginia’s offshore wind resource, which have been allocated to three activities:

  • $300,000 – The Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME) issued a request for proposals that closes Oct. 17, 2012 for a geological survey of the Virginia Wind Energy Area on the Outer Continental Shelf. The survey will inform activities proposed in two DMME offshore wind energy research lease applications. BOEM awarded a matching $300,000 to DMME for the ocean survey.
  • $100,000 – DMME agreed to match a federal competitive grant, if there is an award to a Virginia proposal, to demonstrate advanced technology associated with offshore wind energy generation.
  • $100,000 – To the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute for technical support related to the two DMME research leases, the ocean survey and other research and development activities.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who is speaking at the event, added, “Last week, Governor McDonnell and the Virginia Chamber hosted the 3rd Annual Governor’s Conference on Energy. At that conference energy innovators, researchers and educators met with veteran business leaders, entrepreneurs and policy makers, to discuss implementing an ‘all of the above’ strategy for meeting the future with abundant, reliable and affordable domestic energy. This week, we’re hosting the AWEA Offshore Wind Conference where developers, supply chain companies, researchers and policy makers will discuss launching a strategic offshore wind industry in the United States. Clearly Virginia is emerging as a leader for this burgeoning industry to help meet the demands of our citizens for safe, reliable, affordable energy to power our future.”

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Report Released

The Washington Council on International Trade WCIT is recently released this report “Wealth, Health and International Trade in the 21st Century: The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and its impact on enhancing trade and continuing health and human development.”

The report shows that strong intellectual-property rights (IPR) protections must be included in the TPP agreement not only because of the economic and trade advantages of ensuring continued investment in biomedical and other forms of high technology research, but also because of the significant benefits to the health of people everywhere. For the state of Washington, with our fast growing life sciences and global health sectors, this issue is key for our economy.

To view the full report, please click here.

Governor Launches Mobile Business Application

From the Office of the Governor:

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced the launch of a free mobile application for eVA, Virginia’s award-winning electronic procurement system. The eVA Mobile 4 Business app allows anyone with an Internet-enabled mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, etc.) to have real-time access to Virginia government business opportunities—anywhere, anytime.

Virginia is the first state to launch a mobile app that brings bid opportunities and solicitations literally to the fingertips of its suppliers and the general public, giving them immediate access to the thousands of business opportunities published every year and providing increased visibility into how state government spends the taxpayers’ dollars.

“Success in business today requires real-time, mobile access to business opportunities,” said Governor McDonnell. “The eVA Mobile 4 Business app turns every smart phone into a portal to Virginia’s cutting edge e-procurement system. This app increases access and transparency for businesses and individuals, and by expanding the pool of potential bidders, will save taxpayer dollars. This first-of-its-kind mobile application will unleash the power of the private sector to deliver better, more cost-effective services to the citizens of Virginia.”

“Our company has utilized eVA since its inception to see what the Commonwealth is buying,” said Sandra Sylvester, President & CEO of Superior Global Solutions. “We are growing our reach within the Commonwealth and eVA is the key facilitator between small and diverse companies like ours and our public-sector customers.”

“Virginia has a long-standing record as the leading state for business, and CGI is extremely proud to do business here and call it our U.S. home,” said Mark Boyajian, Senior Vice-President, CGI. “This innovative mobile procurement application, developed by CGI, makes it easier for thousands of small businesses to participate in the procurement process with the Commonwealth, simply by using their mobile device.”

Whether in the office or on the move, the eVA Mobile 4 Business app gives businesses immediate access to all bid opportunities and solicitations published on eVA’s public Virginia Business Opportunities (VBO) page. The app also includes personalized features allowing businesses to follow specific opportunities by adding them to a Watch List. With a variety of other exciting features this app brings real business value to the world of mobile computing.

Getting the app is simple. Find it in the Apple and Android app stores by searching for eVA Mobile 4 Business or use your mobile browser to access the web version at www.eva.virginia.gov/evamobile.

The eVA Mobile 4 Business app is just the latest example of Virginia using technology to make it easier to do business with government, especially for small businesses to do business with Virginia, while increasing public visibility and government accountability.

Virginia’s eVA Program also recently launched Quick Quote Reverse Auction, an exciting addition to the system’s already powerful online bidding tools. This tool allows suppliers to bid multiple times offering better and better pricing for a single business opportunity thus increasing their chances to receive a contract. Unlike a standard auction where bid prices increase during the bidding period, Reverse Auction is designed to seek the lowest price for goods and services. King George County was the first to take the new tool for a “test drive” recognizing opportunities for increased competition and resulting savings. They were excited to see their first auction prices for a specialized fire department vehicle, which began at a high of $67,890, result in a winning low bid of $37,100, a savings of 45 percent.

Forbes.com recently lauded Virginia and the eVA Program as one of the top 10 state/local governments to storm industry by transacting into the Cloud. Cloud computing has proven that government agencies can provide improved services at lower cost. The Commonwealth of Virginia saves about $30 million annually through its eVA Program by leveraging a Software as a Service in the Cloud, which, to date, has conducted more than 3.7 million purchases for over $33 billion for hundreds of state agencies, institutions and local governments.

eVA is Virginia’s nationally and internationally recognized electronic procurement technology program that has won numerous awards for its success. International governments such as Canada and Portugal (representing a core of the European nations) have invited and funded travel for Virginia’s thought-leaders to visit and discuss electronic procurement programs. Currently more than 53,000 suppliers and over 22,000 state, higher education and local government users are in the system and use eVA daily to process procurements. eVA is how Virginia does business and since the beginning of the program the system has generated taxpayer savings in excess of $338 million.

Commonwealth of Virginia Posts Third Surplus

The McDonnell administration announced last week that the Commonwealth of Virginia posted its third straight budget surplus, ending the Fiscal Year with $130 Million. This is the third straight surplus since Governor McDonnell became Governor in January 2010.

The state’s revenue collections rose by 5.4%, which is over 1% higher than forecast collections. This marks the second year that revenue growth has exceeded 5%. This number returns the state’s revenue collections to levels last seen in 2008, indicating Virginia has weathered the recession better than other states.

In 2010, the budget surplus was $403 Million and in 2011, it was $545 Million. Both years included substantial savings.

Per Virginia law, the majority of the money goes into the Rainy Day fund ($78.6 million), while some of the surplus will go into cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay ($20.2 million) and transportation (12.3 million.)

THE VIRGINIA SMALL BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCES IT HAS JOINED THE WE WORK FOR HEALTH VIRGINIA COALITION

The Virginia Small Business Partnership announced today that it has joined the We Work For Health Virginia Coalition, which is aimed at highlighting the important contributions that the bio pharmaceutical sector makes to the Commonwealth’s economy and to the health of Virginians.

We Work for Health Virginia is a grassroots organization Co-Chaired by former State Senator Edd Houck, Virginia Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Barry DuVal and Virginia Bio Executive Director Mark Herzog. The coalition seeks to unite health consumers, bio pharmaceutical company employees and retirees, vendors, suppliers and other business, academic and community partners to demonstrate how these diverse groups work together to improve Virginia’s health care system and strengthen our economy.

“The Virginia Small Business Partnership is honored to be part of the We Work for Health Coalition. It is no secret that the healthcare community is large part of Virginia’s economy. Therefore, it is important that federal and state regulations encourage the continued growth of the bio pharmaceutical market, , said M. David Skiles, Chairman, Virginia Small Business Partnership.” He continued, “Bio pharmaceutical companies generate high-paying jobs, providing growth opportunities for related industries, and generate tax revenue, all of which helps Virginia remain a top state for business.”

Members who have joined We Work for Health Virginia include: Virginia Biotechnology Association, Lupus Foundation of America DC/MD/VA Chapter, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Neurofibromatosis Mid-Atlantic Chapter. To learn more, visit www.WeWorkforHealth.org.

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