The Suffolk Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce held a special meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk/Chesapeake on November 13. The Honorable S. Chris Jones, member of the Virginia General Assembly and a member of the Chamber (Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy) provided in depth remarks on the state of the Commonwealth’s finances and the challenges facing the region and the state due to the recession and Federal Sequestration cuts.
Delegate Jones, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee noted that the state’s revenues have not recovered to the levels recorded in 2006. Prior to this time, the state’s revenues had been growing approximately 9% per year. Presently, the state’s revenue stream is averaging approximately 3%.
This lack of revenue or economic expansion led the General Assembly to restructure the State’s budget by cutting $2.4 billion over the next two years. The General Assembly attempted to protect K-12 Educational Funding while focusing the cuts evenly across State Agencies and in Higher Education. Delegate Jones cautioned that both the Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia regions face economic “headwinds” due to the cuts to the Federal Defense budget via Sequestration and thus the entire Commonwealth’s fiscal health is challenged.
Delegate Jones urged the region to continue to work to diversify our economic base, make the crucial transportation improvements, adjust our focus on technical and educational programs, and strive to develop and recruit businesses that future generations will desire. He noted that these efforts will take “regional cooperation” and active participation from the business community.