As the recent legislative session in the Virginia House of Delegates recently came to a close I wanted to take a look at what my Delegate, Nick Rush, had accomplished in the recent legislative session. You can find what bills have been proposed, and whether they have been enacted here. I was hoping to find that Delegate Rush was successfully proposing bills that would address some of Pulaski greatest needs.
While Delegate Rush’s work on the Appropriations Committee has brought some fiscal relief for school districts losing money, the proposal appears to be more of a band-aid for the problem rather than a long term funding fix. While allocating funds generated from the state lottery to supplement falling school enrollment numbers helps, it does not address the structural problems of funding school districts through property taxes which does little to help small school districts in Southwest Virginia that have far lower property values than areas in Northern Virginia. For instance, the slightly more than $2 million that Pulaski County Schools get from lottery funding is less than 5% of the overall school budget of over $40 million.
It appears that a number of Delegate Rush’s introduced bills were passed. A few of them are more symbolic than tangible, such a renaming the bridge on Rte. 114. Others are important for some local businesses, such as a bill to allow non-profit cinema houses, like the Pulaski Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, to sell alcholol on their premises. Also, a bill to permit local businesses to aggregate, instead of itemize, business property for local personal property tax from $250 to $500.
He also passed a bill repealing a law prohibiting nepotism in the hiring of employees in local school boards for Giles, Radford, Pulaski, Floyd and Montgomery. I can see how it might be difficult for some localities in this area to attract candidates for superintendents positions or the school board without providing employment for their spouses and family members. However, the bill does not change the law for Lee, Scott and Wise counties (LENOWISCO PDC) or for the Cumberlad Plateau PDC (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell Counties). I’m surprised that those areas do not have this issue, but apparently the New River Valley does.
The bill that caused me the most confusion allowed for an income tax deduction for investment in a “Virginia venture capital account.” This means an individual or corporation who invests in a fund that makes 50% of its investments in a “qualified” company headquartered in Virginia and receives an ownership stake. Now I’m sure that many Virginia companies do need additional investment, but I’m a fairly informed investor and I would not know how to go about investing in one of these funds without substantial research. Then I recalled that Delegate Rush is an investment adviser, so undoubtedly he would know some funds and probably has a significant number of clients who are going to benefit from this tax break. Note that this break does not apply to the actual investment in a Virginia business, but only to the income for an investor in a fund that has some ownership stake in various Virginia businesses. The other portion of the fund could be engaged in high-volume speculative trading, but the tax break would still apply. I may be reading this wrong, but it doesn’t appear that there is any limitation on the income that could be deducted, potentially mitigating all of an individuals Virginia tax burden. For comparison a Virginia 529 account, which helps families save for college, limits the deduction to $4,000 per child.
I’ll plan to add more detailed analysis to various bills as I dig more into them. If you have any suggestions for bills that might have a greater effect on the local area, I’m sure Delegate Rush would love to hear from you https://www.facebook.com/DelegateNickRush/