From our family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy New Year! Hoping 2020 is filled with good health, peace, love and plenty of time to spend with family and friends and all those who make you smile!
In just 9 days, I begin my tenure as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and will be the first woman to hold this position in the 400-year history of our Commonwealth. I am honored to have the opportunity and look forward to all that we can achieve together in 2020.
During this upcoming session, our entire Commonwealth will stand on the precipice of tremendous progress. It is a new day in Virginia. What we do and how we respond to the challenges before us will not only define the coming year, but potentially generations to come.
A Moment of Reflection
I would be remiss if I did not also address the recent tragic violence and antisemitism, this time in New York, during Hanukkah, bringing devastation, pain, and darkness during the “Festival of Lights.” My heart is with the Jewish community in New York. Sending strength to all those affected and their families, as well as the brave first responders.
The Upcoming Legislative Session
The next General Assembly Session begins on January 8th, 2020. This year’s session is scheduled to last 60 days, with many issues that are important to our community and Commonwealth up for debate. Among these topics are ballot access, public safety, non-discrimination protections, the Equal Rights Amendment, education funding, health care, our veterans, transportation, gun safety, and the environment.
During this year’s session, I will once again provide you with weekly updates through my eNews about the important topics that arise during each week.
I encourage you to visit the Virginia General Assembly’s website here. This website is a great tool to track legislation of interest, follow committee meetings and obtain member contact information. You can also watch each day’s House of Delegates session live starting next Wednesday here. In addition, please visit my website here and follow me on Facebook at “Eileen Filler-Corn“ and Twitter at @efillercorn for breaking updates and issue briefs during the Session.
If you are interested in visiting Richmond during the Legislative Session, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My staff and I will be happy to help you set up a tour of the Capitol, reserve seating for you to observe a floor session and offer recommendations for other places to visit while in Richmond. Please come visit me in my new office, Room E605 in the General Assembly Building (the Pocahontas Building), while you are in our state capital.
Governor’s Budget Presentation
On December 17th, I was in Richmond for a meeting of the Joint Money Committee, which is made up of the Senate Finance, House Appropriations and House Finance Committees, the latter upon which I serve. Governor Northam unveiled his budget proposal for the 2020-2021 biennium.
The Governor’s budget proposal makes important investments in Virginia’s future in a disciplined, fiscally prudent manner. I applaud Governor Northam’s historic commitment to improve Virginia’s education system, protect our precious natural resources, address infant and maternal mortality, and make critical improvements to mental health care in the Commonwealth – all while maintaining our AAA bond rating and adding $300 Million to what would be a record setting ‘Rainy Day’ cash reserve.
Here are just a few of the impressive items in Governor Northam’s proposed budget:
- An historic $94.8 million in new funding for early childhood education. This investment will increase access for at-risk three- and four-year-olds, establish accountability standards for early care and learning programs, as well as ensure proper training and support for educators.
- $1.2 billion of investment in K-12 education, including a 3% raise in teacher salaries, increased funding for school counselors and new staff supports for English language learners, flexible funds for local divisions, and the single-largest increase in funding for at-risk schools in Virginia history.
- $92 million in new funding dedicated to improving housing affordability, investing in supportive housing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and reducing eviction rates.
- $145 million over the biennium to provide tuition and books to low and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields, providing them with an opportunity for tuition-free community college at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions. This is the Governor’s “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” or “G3” initiative.
- $733 million in new funding to support environmental and clean energy investment. The Governor’s proposed budget focuses on encouraging new investments in offshore wind, clean water efforts, efficiency improvements to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and environmental justice.
- $22 million to fight maternal and infant mortality, including efforts to reduce the racial disparity in Virginia’s maternal mortality rate. Among these efforts are the expansion of Medicaid coverage to new mothers, a focus on supporting community-driven and wrap-around treatment models, as well as access to affordable, reliable contraception.
Additional Staff Appointments
Last week, I finalized and announced additional appointments to my staff. This talented group is committed to our mission of building a strong, inclusive Speaker’s office that will move Virginia forward. I am very proud of the team we have in place. We are ready to get to work making our Commonwealth more prosperous for all Virginians.
- Gerica Goodman, Legislative & Policy Director – Gerica Goodman will serve as Legislative and Policy Director. She comes to my office from the University of Virginia, where she is the Assistant Director of State Government Relations. Gerica brings extensive General Assembly experience and a deep knowledge of the law-making process in Virginia. Prior to her role at the University of Virginia, she was the Policy Director for Virginia 21, a non-partisan organization that advocates for issues of importance to Virginia’s next generation. Gerica has also held strategic positions at Virginia Tech, the American Red Cross, and George Mason University. She is a proud native of the City of Suffolk and holds Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Science degrees from George Mason University.
- Lindsey Watson, Director of Scheduling & Administration – Lindsey Watson will serve as Director of Scheduling and Administration. Lindsey currently serves as Director of the Executive Mansion under Governor Ralph Northam. She brings wide-ranging experience in state government, having previously worked as Deputy Director of Scheduling to Governor Northam and Executive Assistant to former First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. She has also held positions at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Virginia Department of Health Professions. Born and raised in Cumberland County, Lindsey holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.
- Jake Rubenstein, Director of Communications – Jake Rubenstein will serve as Director of Communications. Jake joins my office after two years as Director of Communications for the Democratic Party of Virginia. He previously served as Traveling Aide to former Governor Terry McAuliffe and Confidential Assistant to Attorney General Mark Herring. Jake has also worked in leadership roles on several political campaigns and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.
- Tyler Javonillo, Constituent Outreach Director – Tyler Javonillo will serve as Constituent Outreach Director. Tyler currently works as my Legislative Assistant. He has worked on several political campaigns across Virginia and served as Staff Assistant in the office of former Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D-FL). He is a native of Northern Virginia and is a graduate of James Madison University.
Monthly Office Hours This Morning
Thank you to all of the constituents, advocates and engaged citizens who joined me during my office hours this morning. There was a huge turnout. I was pleased to sit down with allwho came by to discuss the many important issues facing our community and Commonwealth. I truly appreciate your feedback and insight.