VEDP’s Budget Finally Boosted
Since 2000, VEDP’s operating budget remained stagnant at $18 million per year. When factoring in the effect of inflation, the purchasing power of VEDP’s FY16 budget is actually less than it was in FY2000. However, after an aggressive campaign for additional funding, the General Assembly awarded VEDP its largest budget increase in recent history—$5.1 million.
Increased funds will support Business Attraction, Business Expansion and International Trade initiatives such as VJIP, VALET and the STEP program. Outside of VEDP’s operating budget, the General Assembly allotted $2 million over the biennium to the new VEDP-administered Virginia Business- Ready Sites Program, in addition to $2.25 million per year to the Brownfields Restoration Fund.
Proposed COF/Ethics Provision “Fix” Approved
Senate Bill 750 was passed in the final days of the General Assembly session, following efforts by VEDP and its partners to correct unintended consequences resulting from the 2015 ethics legislation.
The omnibus ethics legislation passed in 2015, prohibiting the owners, officers, and directors of a company applying and/or receiving a COF grant from making a contribution to the Governor’s political campaign. This provision presented numerous unintended practical and logistical problems for prospective companies and VEDP.
SB750 eliminates the 2015 provision and replaces it with a more workable process that does not create any burden or confusion for prospective companies. Under this legislation, the Governor’s political committee will be required to notify the state ethics council of any company that made a political contribution to the Governor within 18 months of receiving a COF grant. This already- public information will simply be on file with the ethics council and accessible by the public.
SB750 will go into effect on July 1, 2016; VEDP staff will follow current processes until further notice.