Local Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

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The month of June brings the beginning of summer, graduations, Father’s Day and this year The World Police and Fire Games. Fairfax County is host to these international competitors who will visit our region at the end of the month. You can participate as an observer or consider volunteering. For more information see Fairfax2015.com.

Virginia Marketplace

Since being implemented, many Virginians have signed up for healthcare under marketplace exchanges. Currently, consumers can choose from an average of 23 plans offered by multiple insurance companies. You may have heard that there will be an upcoming Health Insurance Marketplace rate review. Under the Affordable Care Act, tax credits were made available to keep coverage costs down. In Virginia, 83 percent of marketplace enrollees received a premium tax credit. In 2015, the average premium paid by marketplace consumers was $89, saving an average of $259 as as direct result of the tax credit. More than 385,000 people signed up for coverage through the Marketplace in Virginia.

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The major insurers in Virginia are proposing either modest premium increases or no increase at all. This is good news for Virginia consumers. There will be a public comment period and citizens will have the opportunity to weigh in on any proposed increase of 10 percent or more.

I-66 Transformation Project

Many Northern Virginians have been keeping a close eye on the I-66 transformation proposal. It would reshape 25 miles of I-66 from U.S. Route 15 in Haymarket to I-495/Capital Beltway into a multimodal corridor that moves drivers and people more efficiently. It would add three regular lanes in each direction, two express lanes in each direction, and a high-frequency bus service. Last month, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) released the results of the Commonwealth’s analysis of procurement options for the I-66 project. The report found that publicly financing the project may save taxpayers between $300 million and $600 million. Over time, it would also provide for up to $500 million in revenue to be used on other transportation projects in Northern Virginia.

It is currently estimated the total cost of this important project will come in at around $2.1 billion. VDOT analyzed the benefits of using public financing versus using a public private partnership (P3) as well as the long-term fiscal impact. I want to make sure that we are using taxpayer dollars wisely and ensure Virginia will see revenues from this project. Assuming the math is correct, I prefer to see VDOT take the lead on the project. Much has been written about the Rt 460 Public-Private Partnership. Some $250 Million of taxpayer funds were put into that project before a shovel of dirt was dug. We don’t need or want a repeat like this misappropriation. The transmodal project still has a long way to go. Stay tuned.

Vote on June 9 For Penny Gross

I hope you will join me in voting for Supervisor Penny Gross in the Democratic Primary on June 9. Penny has been a champion for our region and has fought hard to improve the quality of life for all of her constituents. She has worked tirelessly on the issues for improving transportation infrastructure, building new public schools, and spurring economic growth. Penny has my full support and it is critical we keep her on the job.

For information about how to vote in the June 9 primary, please visit elections.virginia.gov.

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July 1 marks the beginning of the fiscal year in Virginia and the enactment date for hundreds of new laws. You will be hearing about some of the new laws in the near future. To all of our graduates, I send my best wishes in their future endeavors.

 


Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at district35@senate.virginia.gov.

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