Public presents wish list to Fairfax County lawmakers

FAIRFAX, Va. – State legislators from Fairfax County, Va., spent four hours listening to the public’s top General Assembly concerns.

One can think of it as a wish list given to lawmakers for the upcoming legislative session.

“This is education year for us,” says Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

She was the first to speak at the annual public hearing held the Fairfax County Government Center, where 71 residents were listed to speak on topics ranging from school funding to funding for mental health.

Bulova started out by thanking the delegation for finally getting Virginians moving after lawmakers passed major transportation funding in the last session.

However, she says the county’s focus this year is on education, since cuts have affected the area drastically.

“We’ve lost ground over the years for kids in elementary school through high school,” says Bulova, adding that both community colleges and county colleges are struggling, as well.

Also on her wish list is increased funding for human services. She says, due to the past economic downturn, the need for these services has increased.

“We have nearly 65,000 people living in poverty, including more than 20,000 children,” Bulova says. “As you know pre-K through 12 and human services continue to be a key funding issue for Fairfax County.”

Bulova says she’s most concerned about the governor proposing to eliminate the cost of competing funding for support positions. She says because the county is so expensive to live in, it’s essential to offer higher salaries in order to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and support staff.

According to Bulova, there’s concern over whether there will be sufficient state funding for support services to take care of individuals who are transitioning from the Northern Virginia Training Center (an institutional setting) into the community. The center is being shut down.

Virginia lawmakers get back to work on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The new Virginia General Assembly session will last 60 days since lawmakers will be putting together the 2014-2016 biennial budget.

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