The April General Membership Luncheon meeting was held on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel, with Virginia State Senator Frank Wagner serving as the Guest Speaker.
Senator Wagner, of Virginia's 7th Senatorial District, highlighted the latest from the Commonwealth's General Assembly, focusing on important components in the next Fiscal Year Budget. Pointing out that the budget would be over $100 Billion for the first time, Wagner focused his discussion on three key areas: education, economic development, and transportation.
In the realm of education, Wagner announced that the new budget provides "long overdue" pay raises for teachers -- in fact, Wagner noted that many teachers were making less money than the day laborers he used to hire as President of Davis Boat Works. He also lauded the budget for providing undesignated funds, which allow localities to decide how to best spend the money to suit their individual needs. Additionally, Wagner discussed the rising costs of college tuition, stating simply that it is, "something that we really ought to be upset about," and noting that young adults are likely to graduate college with at least as much debt as they would incur by securing a mortgage to purchase a house.
Additionally, Senator Wagner spoke about portions of the budget designed to boost economic development throughout the Commonwealth. The GO Virginia initiative for growth and opportunity promotes a regional approach to economic development, instead of individual localities. Wagner discussed the significant funding through that initiative that will go towards increasing Virginia's attractiveness to businesses in the areas of cybersecurity, unmanned vehicles, and health and medical research.
Among the most important areas addressed in the budget, according to Senator Wagner, is transportation. He informed the membership that Fleet Forces Command has already stated they will seek expansion of military installations in the Hampton Roads region until the transportation situation is fixed. Among the items addressed by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, for which Senator Wagner serves as the Vice-Chairman, are: continued expansion of I-64 to Fort Eustis and beyond; overhaul and expansion of the I-64 to I-264 interchange; and a study into a "third crossing" or expansion of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to ease congestions between the Southside and Peninsula. Specifically, Wagner addressed some of the issues facing the "third crossing" project, stating that the cost and feasibility of the initiative will be dependent upon the findings of the Army Corps of Engineers, and that there is likely to be a big debate on how to pay for any project that is selected.
Wagner closed by touting Virginia's standing as one of only two states with a AAA Bond Rating in the nation, and speaking with pride excitement about the progress Virginia has made, including beginning work on a new automated system that will double throughput at Norfolk International Terminals, a new Health Sciences building at ODU, and improvements to NSU that will lift the institution out of its current state of unsustainability.
Frank Wagner is a senior member of the Senate of Virginia, representing the Seventh Senate District, which includes the western half of Virginia Beach and northeastern Norfolk. Prior to serving in the Senate, Sen. Wagner served in the House of Delegates. He is the former President of Davis Boat Works, Inc., a premier small boat repair firm in Newport News that he founded. Sen. Wagner knows firsthand how important military spending is to our local economy and how important it is that Virginia is economically competitive in our global economy.
Frank Wagner is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate with a B.S. degree in Ocean Engineering. In the United States Navy, he served as a diving and salvage officer and an engineering duty officer. Sen. Wagner is a tireless champion for military service members, veterans and their families.
Senator Wagner has achieved many important legislative accomplishments. In response to the EPA’s proposed regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, during the 2015 Legislative Session, he introduced – and the Governor signed into law – legislation to freeze the base rates on electric bills through 2020, and require Dominion to build a 400 megawatt solar power facility in Virginia. In 2014, Sen. Wagner crafted legislation to create the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC). He now serves as Vice Chairman of the HRTAC, which is responsible for the approval of projects, and the priority of such projects, pursuant to the Hampton Roads Transportation Fund. Sen. Wagner also serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Frank Wagner is involved in numerous charitable causes and enjoys being a part of our community. In his spare time, he enjoys golf and scuba diving. He has 4 adult daughters and 2 grandchildren.
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