I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family, friends and those who mean the most to you.
For those who follow me on social media, you’ll notice that each Thanksgiving, I post a quote from President Kennedy from his 1963 Thanksgiving Proclamation. In his speech, he eloquently stated, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
I hope we can all find meaning and purpose in President Kennedy’s words because when we are grateful for what we already have, it is that much easier to make the world a better place for others.
Joint House Appropriations and Finance Committees Retreat
Two weeks ago, I was in Norfolk for the annual Joint House Appropriations and Finance Committees Retreat. We had a variety of presentations including a 2020 Session Revenue & Budget Outlook, Medicaid Expansion, Economic Development Initiatives, Teacher Salaries and Inmate Healthcare. You can view these presentations and others by clicking here.
Though in Virginia, we experienced strong financial performance in Fiscal Year 2019, ending the year with a surplus of approximately $800 million, we need to ensure that we are well insulated from the potential shocks of a possible future recession. I look forward to working closely with the Governor, members of House and Senate Leadership, as well as incoming House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian and incoming Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell to continue the strong progress we have made as a Commonwealth.
Transition Team Meeting
On November 22nd, I was pleased to hold the first meeting of my new transition team as Speaker-designee. As I stated in the beginning of the meeting that while I am mindful of House traditions, we will be walking our own new path moving forward, of [a] Virginia that represents and listens to all people no matter what they look like, the color of their skin, the language they speak at home, the religion they practice or not, or who they love.
I am grateful for the help of my team, which is chaired by my longtime friend and former colleague, Wayne Turnage, who is a former chief analyst for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. He also previously served as an adviser to Governor Mark Warner and a chief of staff to Governor Tim Kaine. You can read more about the members of my team by clicking here.
Last week, I made two major staff announcements in the House of Delegates. First, was the nomination of Suzette Denslow as Clerk of the House of Delegates and Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth. Suzette currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Ralph Northam and has extensive experience in Virginia government, having served in the Administrations of Governors Doug Wilder, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe. She also worked for the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and served as Chief of Staff to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. Suzette has dedicated her career to serving the people of the Commonwealth. I am confident that she will maintain the tradition of well-ordered, efficient and effective management of the House of Delegates. Suzette will also make history as the first woman in 400 years to serve as Clerk of the House. Our current clerk, Paul Nardo has served our Commonwealth as Clerk of the House with distinction and he has contributed greatly to Virginia delegates and the people of Virginia. I am thankful for his service.
I also selected Anne Oman as the Director of the House Appropriations Committee staff. Anne will be Virginia’s first female director of the House Appropriations Committee. She brings with her a quarter century of experience in Virginia government, including seventeen years as an analyst in the House Appropriations office. Prior to that, she worked as a principal research analyst for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission where she specialized in Virginia transportation issues. Oman also held positions with the Virginia Department of Transportation, including the Divisions of Policy Analysis and Financial Planning and Debt Management. Anne has the experience and understanding of Virginia’s complex budget, as well as a significant knowledge of the Commonwealth’s budget development process, to immediately start working with Chairman Torian to ensure our budget work is transparent and responsible. Outgoing Director Robert Vaughn provided thirty-seven years of public service to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I thank him for his leadership, serving as the Staff Director for House Appropriations.
Committee Chair Announcements
I also announced the appointments of two more House Committee Chairs last week. Delegate Mark Sickles (Fairfax County) will chair the Health, Welfare & Institutions Committee and Delegate Delores McQuinn (Richmond) will chair the Transportation Committee. This follows up on my prior announcements of chairs for Appropriations (Delegate Luke Torian), Finance (Delegate Vivian Watts), Commerce & Labor (Delegate Jeion Ward) and Education (Delegate Roslyn Tyler). I will announce more chairs in the coming weeks.
Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates Meeting
Last Monday, I was in Richmond for the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates (GACRE). This Council reviews revenue estimates with respect to economic assumptions and the general climate of the Commonwealth. The council includes the Speaker of the House, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Majority Leaders of the House and Senate, Chair of House Appropriations, Chairs of House and Senate Finance, two appointees from the House and Senate as well as fifteen citizen members. The meeting itself was a review of the state’s economic and revenue forecast for the next two-year budget, which the Governor will introduce on December 17th for action by the new General Assembly. I look forward to sharing a summary of the budget in the next edition of the enews.