Senate of Virginia


VaSenateSeal_small.gif (13958 bytes)
March 11, 2004



Mr. Carl Sell
6601 Cottonwood Drive
Alexandria, VA 22310

Dear Carl:

The 2004 General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its 60-day Session on Saturday, March 13th. At the time of this writing, there is much business to be finished, including resolving the budget debate between the House and Senate. Thank you for your interest in the many issues impacting our Commonwealth. The tremendous number of calls, letters, and e-mails I received this session helped me to stay in touch with your opinions and concerns. Each vote I made in Committee and on Senate floor was done with my constituents in mind. Thank you for providing me with valuable information for every vote I made.

I retained my three-committee assignments from last year: Privileges and Elections, General Laws, and Rehabilitation and Social Services. In addition, I was appointed to the Senate Transportation Committee along with fellow Fairfax Senator Jeannemarie Devolites. It is a great opportunity to serve on this committee and my understanding of transportation issues including highway construction and maintenance and funding will only increase with this experience. I will use this knowledge to help create sensible solutions to the traffic issues in our communities.

I am sure many of you followed the tax debate that has consumed this Session. The Senate passed a tax plan and incorporated it into the budget that increases taxes by $3.6 billion over the next two years on cigarettes, motor fuel, and the sales tax in addition to creating higher tax brackets for individuals with incomes greater than $100,000. The House has a dramatically different approach to tax reform. That body has passed a budget that raises $520 million in new revenue by eliminating numerous commercial and industrial sales and use tax exemptions. Please take a moment to study the attached comparison of the Senate, House, and Governor's finance plans.

Although, Senator Chichester's bill (SB635) passed the Senate 27-12, I did not support the bill because of its size and scope. At present, I prefer the House approach of preserving our AAA bond rating and meeting other essential responsibilities of the Commonwealth without massive tax increases.

The creation of a new "high-income tax bracket" would have a disproportionately severe impact on Northern Virginia. We would be asked, once again, to shoulder the revenue needs of the Commonwealth without any change in the Transportation or Education funding formulas. We would receive no compensating benefit for the new tax. In fact, every Northern Virginia legislator should be opposed to this new tax burden that hits our constituents the hardest.

With regard to an increase in the tobacco taxes, I have never seen a more favorable climate for change. However, I do not support giving localities the authority to increase the cigarette tax independently. With that in mind, I introduced an unsuccessful floor amendment that would have standardized the cigarette tax at 25 cents per pack creating one tax rate for all localities including counties, cities and towns.

There is still plenty of time for changes to develop affecting this tax plan. The House and Senate budget conferees are working on the differences between their budgets and there will be one more vote the last week of Session to send our budget to the Governor for his consideration.

Again, thank you for contacting me during this General Assembly Session. It is an honor to represent our district and to report back to you. Please do not hesitate to contact my district office at 703.750.0936 with any comments or concerns you may have.


Jay O'Brien

DISTRICT:   (703) 750-0936 RICHMOND: (804) 698-7539 E-MAIL: DISTRICT39@SOV.STATE.VA.US


Major Funding Differences
Senate and House and Governor's Proposed Budgets

General Funds Only (Unless Otherwise Indicated)




Rainy Day Fund (Additional Deposits) $215.5 $230.5 $415.5
Public Education (Above the Base)
Total Additional Direct Aid Funding (Above the Base) $728.9 $801.1 $1,712.3
Less: VRS Savings in Central Appropriations (52.4) (74.4) 0.0
Plus: Salary Supplement in Central Appropriations 50.9 0.0 0.0
Net Public Education (After Central Appropriations Actions) $727.4 $726.7 $1,712.3
Higher Education (Above the Base) $149.3 $116.1 $342.1
Base Adequacy and Enrollment Growth $73.0 $84.3 $220.3
Student Financial Aid $9.1 $9.1 $15.6
TAG Grants $4.5 $4.0 $7.6
Support for Research $10.8 ($13.9) $14.8
Virginia Tech Extension $1.3 ($1.1) $4.1
Health and Human Resources (Net of Medicaid Forecast) 199.2 174.9 327.3
Community-Based Waiver Services (MR, DD) 7.5 7.5 71.7
Provider Rate Increases (hospitals, nursing homes, ER phys) 18.9 3.8 50.6
Services for the Mentally Disabled 50.5 50.5 60.3
Services for the Physically Disabled 2.2 2.1 7.6
Social Services Programs 59.2 57.2 63.3
Services to the Aged & Prescription Drug Access 0.9 0.5 4.9
Public Safety (Above the Base) $122.3 $76.2 $133.7
State Aid for Local and Regional Jail Operations
Jail Per Diems (Compensation Board) $15.1 ($1.1) $41.5
Virginia's Court System (above budget as introduced) $16.0 $15.3 $30.7
Indigent Defense (Civil and Criminal) $15.8 ($0.7) $24.9
New Judgeships and District Court Positions 0.0 0.0 7.6
Land Conservation and Water Quality (Above the Base) $7.6 $7.6 $67.6
Transportation (Above the Base, All Fund Sources) $430.1 $216.1 $1,639.1
Employee Compensation (Above the Base) $54.4 $33.2 $185.6
3% Classified Salary Increase in FY 2005 (H: FY 2006) $30.0 $28.0 $76.8
3% Faculty Salary Increase in FY 2005 (H: FY 2006) $12.0 $12.0 $31.3
3% State-Supported Local Employees in FY 2005 $12.4 $0.0 $20.0
Retiree Health Care Credit Cost Revision $0.0 ($6.8) $0.0
State Police (Troopers' Salaries and Salary Compression) $0.0 $0.0 $20.4
Deputy Sheriffs' Salaries $0.0 $0.0 $37.1
Capital Outlay and Deferred Maintenance
Remove cash from Maintenance Reserve - Replace with Debt $62.8 $0.0 $10.0
Capital Repairs and Improvements Revolving Fund $0.0 $0.0 $25.3


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