Tourism Spending Record in Arlington — Visitors to Arlington spent about $3.1 billion in 2015, a new record. That’s up 3 percent compared to 2014. The tourism spending generated $86 million in county tax revenue and $115 million in state tax revenue. [Arlington County]
New ART 92 Schedule Starts Today — A more frequent ART 92 bus schedule starts today, with buses running every 15 minutes during peak times. ART 92 runs from Crystal City to Long Bridge Park to the Pentagon. [Arlington Transit]
Cesar Millan in Crystal City — ‘Dog Whisperer’ star Cesar Millan was spotted walking the streets of Crystal City on Sunday. Millan was in town filming a new show, Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation, which will air on the Nat Geo Wild channel. [Patch, Twitter]
Arlington ’40 Under 40′ Honorees — The Leadership Center for Excellence has announced this year’s Arlington “40 Under 40” honorees. The 40 Under 40 luncheon will be held Dec. 2. [InsideNova]
Photos from Weekend Events — Pleasant late-summer temperatures helped drive big turnouts at Clarendon Day and Pups and Pilsners this weekend. Meanwhile, ARLnow’s Fall Beer Mega Tasting Event at Arrowine drew a (relatively) big crowd as well.
Flickr pool photo by Angela Pan
Arlington County just released its 2016 Profile, which includes vital statistics like population, employment and demographics.
According to the county, Arlington’s estimated population on Jan. 1, 2016 was 220,400, up from 216,700 on Jan. 1, 2015 and up 6.1 percent compared to 2010.
Arlington’s population is projected to reach 283,000 by 2040. That projection is unchanged from last year.
The number of jobs in Arlington County, meanwhile, declined over the past year.
There were 211,000 employees working in Arlington on Jan. 1, compared to 221,700 in 2015. Much of that can be attributed to a shrinking government workforce in Arlington — 23 percent of the jobs in Arlington were government employees on Jan. 1, compared to 24.2 percent of the labor force last year. That’s a loss of more than 5,100 government jobs.
Still, the projected number of jobs in Arlington in 2040 remains steady at just over 300,000. The profile presents a picture of a county that remains a major employment center and a sought-after place to live.
“Arlington has more private office space than the downtowns of Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver,
Seattle, or Atlanta,” it says. “Arlington continues to grow with the addition of new development. In 2015,
2,161 residential units were completed.”
Photo courtesy James Mahony
The move comes amid a wave of layoffs among tech companies that are struggling to attain or maintain profitability as tech investment euphoria cools. Across the economy, there’s weakness in the employment market and in corporate profits.
“We’ve reduced a small number of roles — about 45, including about 25 in our U.S. offices,” Opower Vice President of Communications Matt Maurer said this morning in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. “It’s part of an effort to cut back on our overall spend in sales and marketing and R&D.”
“These moves give us a better expense profile and strengthen the very good position we are already in as the clear leader in our space, having recently renewed our largest clients to multi-year extensions and with over $480 million in contracted future revenue on the books,” Maurer continued. “These strong fundamentals — combined with our new and growing set of customer care products — put Opower in a great position for continued success.”
Opower had about 600 employees worldwide before the layoffs, which were announced to employees last week.
The company is planning to move from its long-time offices in Courthouse to a new yet-to-be-built headquarters down the street, at 2311 Wilson Blvd, in about two years. Opower received a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to entice the company to stay in Virginia.
Opower, which creates energy efficiency technology for utility companies, is publicly traded under the ticker symbol OPWR. As of 11:15 a.m. it was trading at $7.30 per share. The company reported a $13.6 million loss in its most recent quarterly results.
Taxi Driver Fights Arlington Cemetery Tickets — A taxi driver is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month to appeal three misdemeanor traffic convictions. U.S. Park Police have been repeatedly ticketing Yahia Fayed for idling outside of Arlington National Cemetery, where he says there’s a steady stream of people looking for a cab. Federal officials say that’s not allowed. So far, no militiamen have threatened to protest federal government tyranny on Fayed’s behalf. [Washington Post]
Scary CO Incident at Gym Near Fairlington — Arlington County firefighters and medics were among those who responded to the XSport Fitness gym on King Street, across from Fairlington, on Saturday for a carbon monoxide incident. Witnesses said people all of a sudden started collapsing on their treadmills. Seven were hospitalized. A malfunctioning pool heater was found to be the cause. [Fox 5 DC]
Arlington Ready to Enforce Snow Removal Ordinance — Should snow ever fall this winter, Arlington County is ready to enforce its five-year-old snow removal ordinance. Last season, 25 citations were issued for snow removal violations. [InsideNova]
Lidl HQ Close to Opening — The new U.S. headquarters for German grocery giant Lidl is getting ready to open near Potomac Yard. The company also just purchased land near Richmond for one of its first stores in Virginia. [Virginia Business]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Shortest Day of the Year — Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun will be up just 9 hours and 26 minutes today, so enjoy the daylight while it lasts. Tonight is the winter solstice. [Capital Weather Gang]
Two Big Crystal City Projects on Hold — Two projects to replace aging office buildings in Crystal City are on hold due to high office vacancy in the region. Vornado was planning to replace 1851 S. Bell Street with what would have been the tallest building in Crystal City and the largest private office building in Arlington. The company was also planning to replace 223 23rd Street S. with an office and a residential tower. Those have both reportedly been shelved due to market conditions. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Play Cornhole With Bar Crawlers — Nearly 2,000 people flocked to Clarendon on Saturday for the inaugural Candy Cane Crawl, a holiday-themed bar crawl. Arlington County Police used the occasion to educate bar-goers about the dangers of drunk driving, by having people try to play cornhole while wearing “drunk goggles.” [WUSA 9]
Mary Slye Obituary — Mary Patricia Slye, who managed Robert Slye Electronics on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, died last month of a heart attack at the age of 65. Slye was an Arlington resident and began working at the audio visual installation business in the mid-1980s. [Washington Post]
Vehicle Topples Light Pole on Washington Blvd — A vehicle struck a light pole near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive on Saturday, sending it toppling across the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. Eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd was blocked for about 15 minutes. [Twitter]
GMU Grad Hopes to Run for Arlington School Board — A newly-minted George Mason University grad has a specific and somewhat uncommon career goal for someone her age: Marlayna Bush says she wants to run for the Arlington School Board in 2018. She just received her BA in conflict analysis and resolution. [George Mason University]
This week, the Census Bureau released its 2014 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, which looks at poverty and income in counties and states. In Virginia, independent cities were included as “counties.”
The top three richest counties in the country, according to the data, are all in the D.C. area: Falls Church, Loudoun County and Fairfax County.
Arlington ranked behind two western counties: Los Alamos, New Mexico, home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the economic powerhouse Denver suburb of Douglas County, Colorado.
In 2013, Arlington ranked No. 7 on the Census Bureau’s median income list, at $99,255 compared to $107,143 this year.
The top twenty localities on the list, by median income, are:
- Falls Church, VA ($125,635)
- Loudoun County, VA ($122,641)
- Fairfax County, VA ($110,507)
- Los Alamos County, NM ($108,477)
- Douglas County, CO ($107,250)
- Arlington County, VA ($107,143)
- Howard County, MD ($106,871)
- Hunterdon County, NJ ($103,876)
- San Mateo County, CA ($100,806)
- Morris County, NJ ($100,511)
- Somerset County, NJ ($100,194)
- Nassau County, NY ($98,312)
- Williamson County, TN ($97,936)
- Delaware County, OH ($97,802)
- Montgomery County, MD ($97,279)
- Santa Clara County, CA ($97,219)
- Marin County, CA ($94,549)
- Putnam County, NY ($94,334)
- Fairfax city, VA ($94,067)
- Stafford County, VA ($92,647)
Arlington Inmate Dies — A 48-year-old convict died early Saturday morning in the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The man, who had a “history of medical issues,” was found unresponsive in his cell and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. [Arlington County]
More Sequestration Could Hit Virginia Hard — Virginia, and in particular Northern Virginia, is bracing for more sequestration cuts to the Defense Department, which are set to take effect in five weeks. Virginia’s two U.S. Senators are pushing for new budget legislation to replace the sequester. [Washington Post]
Cemetery Superintendent Removed — One year after taking the position, Arlington National Cemetery superintendent Jack E. Lechner has been given the boot. The Army says Lechner’s job performance was unsatisfactory. [Washington Post]
DAK Chicken Opens in Shirlington — DAK Chicken, a Korean-style chicken restaurant, welcomed customers on Friday for its soft opening. In addition to chicken wings the new Shirlington eatery offers other Korean and Asian-fusion dishes like kimchi, bulgogi and ramen. [Northern Virginia Magazine, Facebook]
Arlington Company Makes Fortune List — Courthouse-based Opower has made Fortune Magazine’s inaugural “Change The World” list. Opower is ranked No. 45 on the list of 51 companies “that have made a sizable impact on major global social or environmental problems as part of their competitive strategy.” How long Opower remains in Arlington remains a question: the company is currently considering a move to the District. [Fortune]
Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette. It originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly Arlington business e-newsletter. You can subscribe to ARLbiz here.
On New Year’s Day, I announced that my focus this year as Arlington County Board Chairman will be on sustainability – the ability to prosper through change. A key element of that focus for me will be laying the groundwork for Arlington to become a hub for the innovation economy.
Everything we do should be judged by how it advances our goal of building a community that will sustain Arlingtonians for generations to come. We have such a strong foundation on which to build.
When I moved to Arlington in 1983 — 31 years ago — it was a somewhat sleepy place with an uncertain future. Arlington had made the commitment to transit as our prime engine of redevelopment but we were not sure how far it could take us. Today, 40 percent of all transit trips in the state — in the entire state — begin or end in Arlington. After years of persistence, patience and sound investment, the unprecedented prosperity that has resulted is clear.
Today, other localities are learning from us and making smarter planning decisions themselves. We face a rapidly changing economy and increased competition as the Silver Line brings rail transit to Tyson’s and beyond and DC creates new office markets. To tackle these challenges, the County Manager, accompanied by Board Members, went on a listening tour in the business community. What we heard on that tour helped me formulate my action plan. Owners of businesses both small and large love this community and value the business opportunities here, but we heard thoughtful suggestions from them on how we can make Arlington an even better place to do business.
We know that Arlington has amazing assets that will continue to be a fundamental part of our economic strength. Our location is not going to change. National Airport and the Pentagon are not going anywhere. Our outstanding transportation system, smart growth policies and great schools will be protected and enhanced. Did you know that today’s Arlington has the nation’s highest concentration of 25 to 34-year-olds — and is the home of the region’s “creative class?”
In the coming months, as part of my six-point plan, we will be presenting ideas for accelerating the growth of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor’s science, technology, art, research and education eco-system; strengthening communications and partnerships between County government, businesses, entrepreneurs and residents; updating our Retail Action Plan; and strategically marketing Arlington to businesses and developers nationally.
These initiatives will help ensure that Arlington is a leader in the innovation economy — the 21st-century economy of flexible, creative enterprises and high-tech products and services.
You can read my entire January 1 speech on the County website.
It is an ambitious agenda — but this is an ambitious community. We lean forward and are good at turning challenges into opportunities. Arlington’s future is bright. Together, we will continue to build a community that is a model of sustainability, diversity and civic engagement – a place that other communities look to for inspiration.
Chairman, Arlington County Board
The pages of Craigslist are filled with budding young professionals who, unable to afford their own Metro-accessible apartments in high-rent Arlington, instead search for roommates and shared housing. In the past few years, a growing number of young businesses have been taking a similar approach to office space in Arlington: cheaper rent, good location and good company.
Five coworking offices have moved into Arlington in the past two years: UberOffices in Rosslyn, Carr Workplaces in Rosslyn and Clarendon, Link Locale in Clarendon and, most recently, The Ground Floor in Rosslyn in the same building as UberOffices.
The spaces offer relatively cheap rent in one of the country’s most expensive commercial real estate markets, and the flexibility to grow. Technology startups in Arlington and around the county have flocked to the business incubator-style setting, with in-house services, conference rooms and amenities usually reserved for large companies.
The spaces provide support in the form of kitchen space, conference rooms, and a variety of amenities. UberOffices, for instance, has video games and a foosball table. The Ground Floor, which opened this month, has a dedicated space for events.
“This concept has been around for a long time,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President Rich Doud said. “It just hadn’t caught on, but I think the future will kind of force situations like this.”
Josh Newsome and Kaitlyn Walthall are a two-person team for Collins Engineering. They moved into UberOffices in January from a workspace in Tysons Corner. The Ballston residents said the search for a place with their requirements “two desks and high-speed Internet” was surprisingly difficult.
“There are only two of us,” Walthall said. “This is the only way to work together that’s not in a coffee shop.”
‘Luxury’ Apartment Rent Falling in Arlington — Rents for Class A apartments in Arlington and Alexandria fell 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013, “a clear sign that the supply of new apartments is catching up to demand.” The average Class A rent in Arlington and Alexandria is $1,973 a month. [UrbanTurf]
Kroger Buys Harris Teeter — Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger has purchased Harris Teeter. So far, the company is not planning any significant changes for Harris Teeter stores, which will retain their branding and management. [Washington Post]
Still No Tenants for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The new 35-story office building at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn — now the D.C. area’s tallest building other than the Washington Monument — is set to open in October. However, the building, which was built “on spec” by owner Monday Properties, could open without a single tenant. [WJLA]
All-American Honors for DJO Softball Stars — Bishop O’Connell softball stars (and recent graduates) Tori Finucane and Jillian Ferraro have been chosen as All-Americans by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Fairfax May Be ‘Big Winner’ From Streetcar — The Columbia Pike streetcar may be an economic boon to Fairfax County. Fairfax is planning to use its portion of the future streetcar system to lure office tenants to the Skyline and Baileys Crossroads areas. Already, promise of the streetcar might be helping to sway the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to move to Skyline from Ballston. [Sun Gazette]
Office Absorption Down as Sequester Takes Hold — The D.C. region, particularly Northern Virginia, is shedding office tenants. The region typically “absorbs” about 900,000 square feet of office space per quarter, but posted a negative 100,000 square foot absorption figure between April and June. Tenant downsizing and federal job losses and budget cuts are being blamed for the poor absorption figures. [Globe St]
Brink Unopposed in Upcoming Election — Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is running unopposed for reelection in November, after the Libertarian candidate he was set to face dropped out of the race. Del. Patrick Hope, Del. Alfonso Lopez and Del. Rob Krupicka, all Democrats, area facing a Libertarian, an Independent Green and and independent candidate, respectively. So far, no Republican challengers have been announced. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeking LEGO Artists — Arlington Public Library is seeking LEGO builders ages 18 and under to help design and build LEGO structures for display at a library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The United States continues to battle Japan for the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. It is not a place in the world rankings we should aspire to hold if we want to remain the global economic leader for generations to come. While our unemployment rate is inching down, too many Americans have simply given up looking for work. So, it is incumbent upon elected officials to create a pro-growth environment at every level of government.
This week Virginia gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli outlined his Economic Growth & Virginia Jobs Plan. It touches on a number of items, but I wanted to highlight three:
First, the plan calls for capping state government spending growth at no more than the rate of population plus inflation. This is a common sense measure that would give legislators in Richmond a reasonable budget to work with every two years. Hopefully, the idea would be given the force and effect of law rather than simply be stated as a goal.
Second, the plan would reduce the corporate income tax rate to 4 percent, which would make Virginia’s rate one of the most attractive in the country. Certainly, one of the ways, other than savings from a cap in spending growth, to accommodate the tax rate reduction is by heeding Cuccinelli’s call to curtail special interest tax breaks. Leveling the playing field for all businesses in Virginia makes sense.
Third, the plan would create a Small Business Tax Relief Commission. One of the goals of this commission is to reduce or eliminate the BPOL tax. As noted last week, BPOL is a tax on gross receipts, not income. This tax particularly hurts businesses with the slimmest profit margins.
Making jobs and the economy his first specific policy rollout sends a strong signal about the highest priority of the Cuccinelli campaign. For comparison, Terry McAuliffe’s website does feature an issue section with a page on jobs or the economy. His sole economic growth policy position is that we should invest in the creation of “green jobs”, which probably means taxpayer funded special interest incentives. McAuliffe has maintained this priority even after a string of negative reports on his GreenTech Automotive venture. Based on GreenTech, and failed companies like Solyndra, Virginians should be wary of any government attempts to pick winners and losers.
Competition for businesses, and the jobs they bring, will continue between states. We should expect our next governor to have a plan to make Virginia number one in private sector job creation.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
The development of 5.3 million square feet of office, 836,543 square feet of retail and 7,572 residential units in Arlington has been approved by the county but is not yet under construction, according to the 2012 Arlington County Government annual report. That’s up from last year’s annual report, when 4.3 million square feet of office, 813,479 square feet of retail and 5,839 residential units were approved and awaiting construction.
As of Sept. 30, approximately 1 million square feet of office, 150,000 square feet of retail and 1,380 residential units were under construction, up about 50 percent, 70 percent and 20 percent year-over-year, respectively.
The figures are a reflection of continued developer interest in Arlington County, despite economic competition from D.C. and the new Silver Line corridor.
“The increased competition from the Silver Line construction certainly exists, and our team is working diligently to showcase the opportunity that exists in Arlington,” said Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “Developers are continuing to plan new and exciting projects in Arlington, and our BizLaunch program works with as many as 3,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses every year.”
Still, some believe that the Silver Line may take some Metro-oriented development away from Arlington, particularly after the first section of the rail line — running from Reston and Tysons to Arlington and D.C. — opens in late 2013 or early 2014.
Most of the projects not yet under construction in Arlington were approved in the past 5 years, although some date back to the 1990s and one dates back to 1981. All told, there is about 40 million square feet of office space in Arlington, plus 43,000 residential units along Metro corridors and 105,000 residential units countywide, based on the county’s 2012 profile.
The developments approved but not yet under construction (as of 11/1/12) include:
- Rosslyn Gateway Phases 1 & 2 — 1901 Ft. Myer Drive — 490,056 sq ft office / 26,376 sq ft retail / 273 residential units / 148 hotel rooms
- Rosslyn Commons Townhouses — 1500 Clarendon Blvd — 25 residential units
- Central Place — 1801 N. Moore Street — 570,549 sq ft office / 44,554 sq ft retail / 374 residential units
- Wakefield Manor — 2025 Fairfax Drive — 188 residential units
- 1919 Clarendon Blvd (Hollywood Video Site) — 1919 Clarendon Blvd — 24,657 sq ft retail / 198 residential units
- The Tellus — 2009 14th Street N. — 10,674 sq ft office / 4,354 sq ft retail / 254 residential units
- Washington View — 2001 Clarendon Blvd — 32,840 sq ft retail / 154 residential units
- NTSA Office Site — 1840 Wilson Blvd — 107,920 sq ft office / 10,000 sq ft retail
- Demar Office Building — 2311 Wilson Blvd — 100,328 sq ft office / 4,906 sq ft retail
- 3001 Washington Blvd (Penzance) — 3001 Washington Blvd — 284,012 sq ft office / 22,479 sq ft retail
- Beacon at Clarendon West (formerly The Waverly) — 1200 N. Irving Street — 18,299 sq ft retail / 195 residential units
- 3901 Fairfax Drive — 3901 Fairfax Drive — 178,131 sq ft office / 3,200 sq ft retail
- Virginia Square Towers — 3440 Fairfax Drive — 12,815 sq ft retail / 540 residential units
- 3803 Fairfax Drive Expansion — 3803 Fairfax Drive — 43,045 sq ft office
- 650 N. Glebe Road (Goodyear Site) — 650 N. Glebe Road — 2,203 sq ft retail / 163 residential units
- Founder’s Square North Office — 707 N. Randolph Street — 418,810 sq ft office / 7,670 sq ft retail
- The Place (Founder’s Square North Residential) — 4000 Wilson Blvd — 9,035 sq ft retail / 256 residential units
- Peck/Staples/AHC Townhouses — 815 N. Woodrow Street — 28 residential units
- The Spire/Fairmont — 4420 Fairfax Drive — 9,200 sq ft retail / 237 residential units
- 1900 Crystal Drive — 1900 Crystal Drive — 719,704 sq ft office / 11,290 sq ft retail
- Boeing Site — 608 S. Ball Street — 453,422 sq ft office
- Potomac Yard Land Bays C & D — 3001 Jefferson Davis Hwy — 1,064,298 sq ft office / 73,696 sq ft retail / 691 residential units
- Lofts at Crystal Houses — 1900 S. Eads Street — 252 residential units
- Crystal City Retail Phase II — 2010 Crystal Drive — 84,034 sq ft office / 92,920 sq ft retail
- Airport Plaza IV — 2600 Crystal Drive — 198 residential units
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 3 — 501 15th Street S. — 64,231 sq ft retail / 1,172 residential units / 300 hotel rooms
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 1D — 1197 S. Fern Street — 930 residential units / 582 hotel rooms
- The Acadia (Three Metropolitan Park) — 1201 S. Fern Street — 16,345 sq ft retail / 411 residential units
- Pentagon Centre Phases 1-3 — 1201 S. Hayes Street — 776,982 sq ft office / 327,070 sq ft retail / 600 residential units / 250 hotel rooms
- Pike 3400 — 3400 Columbia Pike — 15,443 sq ft retail / 301 residential units
- Axumite Village — 1100 S. Highland Street — 36 residential units
- Columbia Place — 1100 S. Edgewood Street — 2,960 sq ft retail / 22 residential units
- Buckingham Townhomes Village I — 424 N. George Mason Drive — 68 residential units
- Greenbrier Village Phase II — 2251 N. Greenbrier Street — 4 residential units
- 705/707 N. Barton Street — 705 N. Barton Street — 2 residential units
Budget Cuts May Hurt Local Economic Growth — With looming budget cuts and the possible implications of the fiscal cliff, the D.C. area economy is starting to look more vulnerable and more like the rest of the country, according to economists. The federal government and information job categories have seen losses recently, and slower economic growth is expected over the next two decades. [Sun Gazette]
Residents Still Wary of Homeless Shelter — Residents have of the Woodbury Heights condominium in Courthouse, who have been speaking out against the county’s planned year-round homeless shelter at 2020 14th Street N., have been working with Arlington and its contractors on changes to the design of the building. Residents want the entrance to the shelter to be as far away from their building as possible. One homeless advocate, frustrated with the residents’ continued opposition to the shelter, called the attendees at a recent community meeting “the biggest group of snobs I’ve ever seen.” [Patch]
Library Recommends Audiobooks for Holiday Trips — Arlington Public Library has some recommendations for family-friendly audiobooks to make your holiday road trip go faster. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool by John Sonderman
Three Democratic members of Congress from northern Virginia, including Rep. Jim Moran, have sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) in support of avoiding the “economic disaster” of sequestration through a “balanced approach to deficit reduction.”
The letter asks McDonnell to “prod” Republicans in Congress to support a deficit reduction package that closes tax loopholes, eliminates “unneeded subsidies,” and avoids deep cuts to social safety net programs.
Sequestration could cost Virginia 207,000 jobs and $20.9 billion in lost economic activity, according to one economist.
From a press release:
Congressmen Jim Moran (VA-08), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), and Bobby Scott (VA-03) wrote to Governor Bob McDonnell today detailing the impact sequestration cuts would have on Virginia families and urging Gov. McDonnell to use his leadership position in the national Republican Party to prod House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor “to begin discussions on a balanced deficit reduction package that can garner bipartisan support” and avoid an economic disaster for the Commonwealth.
The Virginia lawmakers were responding to McDonnell’s October 9 letter urging President Obama and the Virginia Congressional delegation to support a House Republican “cuts-only” plan that would shift all defense cuts to safety-net domestic programs. “We were puzzled by your recent letter to the President and congressional delegation urging support for the cuts-only approach,” the three Democratic lawmakers wrote. “Your concerns about the impact on Virginia of a sequester to defense spending, which we share, applies almost equally to nondefense discretionary spending, to which your letter is silent.”
The lawmakers questioned Governor McDonnell’s support of the “Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act” (H.R. 5652) passed by the House on May 10 on a party line vote. The legislation would prevent the sequestration cuts to defense programs by cutting an additional $300 billion over the next 10 years from safety net programs like Medicare, SNAP (food stamps), and non-profit health clinics providing preventive services. The bill also requires all current and future federal workers to pay an additional 5 percent of their salary toward their federal pensions. “Contrary to its title, this bill does not avert sequestration, instead shifting cuts to safety-net domestic programs in the early years and leaving the door open to across-the-board cuts in later years.”
Along with the defense cuts and their impact on Virginia’s federal contracting sector, sequestration could trigger massive layoffs in the federal workforce, and would result in fewer air traffic controllers, border guards, food inspectors, and cuts to public safety and nearly every other government function. The House Republican bill advanced by McDonnell would only make those cuts more severe since it contains no balance of new revenue.
Ironically, in 2011, Governor McDonnell wrote the Virginia delegation calling for a bipartisan solution with all options, including revenue, on the table. The cuts-only approach advocated by Governor McDonnell in his October letter departs from his previous bipartisan approach. “Last year…we applauded your initiative. We hope you will join us in calling on Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to begin discussions on a balanced deficit reduction package that can garner bipartisan support. We stand ready to work with you to achieve a balanced solution that delivers on the tradition of our Commonwealth,” Connolly, Moran, and Scott wrote.
Sequestration, which mandates $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, came about after House Republicans, for the first time in history, refused to support the President’s request for a clean debt limit bill and instead demanded massive cuts. A commission formed in the aftermath failed to reach agreement on the savings when Republicans refused to consider closing tax loopholes, ending unneeded subsidies or any other revenue measures, and walked away from the table.
Unless Congress is able to find these savings, on January 2nd, defense spending immediately will be cut by about 10 percent, while non-defense discretionary spending will be cut by roughly 8 percent, and payments to Medicare providers will be cut by two percent – a total reduction in spending of $110 billion for fiscal year 2013.
Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University predicted sequestration cuts could cost Virginia 207,000 jobs and put a $20.9 billion hole in Virginia’s economy.
Connolly, Moran, Scott, and other Democrats in Congress have repeatedly urged the House Republican leadership to cancel the 5-week August recess and the current 7-week recess to bring Congress back to Washington to deal with sequestration and other pressing fiscal matters that expire at the end of the calendar year.
October 18 Connolly, Moran, Scott Letter to Gov. McDonnell – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20sequester%20response%20Connolly%20-%20Moran%20-%20Scott%2010-18-12.pdf
October 10 Letter from McDonnell to President Obama and Virginia delegation – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20sequester%20letter%20to%20POTUS%2010-10-12.pdf
McDonnell Letter of July 2011 from McDonnell to President Obama and Virginia delegation – http://connolly.house.gov/uploads/McDonnell%20to%20President%20on%20debt%20ceiling%2007-20-11.pdf