Month: June 2016

McAuliffe signs legislation establishing military medics, corpsmen pilot program

Augusta Free Press – June 28, 2016

Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed the Military Medics and Corpsmen bill, establishing the Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen (MMAC) Pilot Program in the Commonwealth. Modeled after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Intermediate Care Technician Program, SB 437 established Virginia’s MMAC Program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, creating pathways to employment to Virginia’s health care fields for highly skilled medical veterans.

“Expanding benefits and employment opportunities for our veterans in Virginia has been a top priority of my administration since day one, and the Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen pilot program underscores Virginia’s unwavering commitment to our service members,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This program ensures the advanced medical training our men and women received in uniform is harnessed in successful post-service career tracks in Virginia’s health care industry. Whether we are functionally ending veteran homelessness, expanding post-service medical treatment, or creating new career pathways, Virginia will continue to be on the forefront of veteran services for those who bravely served our country.”

The MMAC Program in Virginia is modeled after the highly successful Veterans Health Administration Intermediate Care Technician Pilot Program, which operated in 15 Federal Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the United States. With the MMAC Program, Virginia is the first state in the nation to offer this kind of innovative pathway to employment for these highly skilled veterans.

“As a former Army doctor, I worked alongside military medics while treating soldiers injured during Desert Storm,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. “Our medics and corpsmen have extensive training and valuable experience, and this important piece of legislation recognizes their service, helps them transition into our civilian health systems, and has the potential for hundreds of veterans to gain employment in healthcare jobs throughout Virginia.”

House bill patron, Delegate Christopher Stolle added, “As a retired Naval Officer and physician, I can personally attest to the relevant, real-world experience military medics and corpsmen hold from their extensive military education and training while on active duty.  Military medics and corpsmen are outstanding candidates to help fill many gaps in Virginia’s healthcare workforce.”

“The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) has been developing this initiative with input from the following five health systems: Sentara, Inova Health System, Carilion, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Bon Secours. We extend our thanks to these vital partners who will help develop this program,” said John L. Newby, Commissioner of VDVS.

“Veterans trained as military medics and corpsmen should be recognized for the extensive skills they bring to the table,”noted Senate bill patron Senator George Barker.

Sentara Heart Hospital hosted the bill signing. Howard P. Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, added, “Recognizing how important this is for veterans, and the Commonwealth’s need for more health care professionals, Sentara has supported establishing this pilot program. We also have provided input to the Department of Veterans Services as it has been developing the details.”

The MMAC Program will be accepting applications from qualified service men and women by the fall of 2016. To learn more visit www.dvs.virginia.gov or call the MMAC Program Manager at 804-786-0571.

SMART SCALE (HB2) – CTB Approved Projects and Funding

Legislation signed into law in 2014 directed the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to develop a prioritization process to be used in the selection of capacity expansion transportation projects to be funded.  The legislation, commonly referred to as House Bill 2 or HB2 (Patron-Stolle), has been renamed SMART SCALE (SMART stands for System Management Allocation of Resources for Transportation and SCALE stands for the six road project scoring attributes: Safety, Congestion mitigation, Accessibility, Land use, Environmental and economic development).

SMART SCALE is intended to improve the transparency and accountability of project selection as well as improve stability in the Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP).  Using the new prioritization process, proposed projects are scored based on an objective and fair analysis that is applied statewide.  The project scores are a critical part of the information taken into consideration by the CTB and help the CTB select projects that provide the maximum benefit for tax dollars spent.

The CTB approved the FY 2017-2022 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) at their meeting on June 14, 2016.  The $14.6 billion SYIP includes $1.6 billion for 163 SMART SCALE projects across the Commonwealth. The Hampton Roads Region received funding on 21 projects totaling over $332 million, with $178 million in District Grant Program funds and $154 million in Statewide High Priority Projects Program funds.

The CTB approved SMART SCALE projects in the Hampton Roads Region are shown in the following table:

 

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Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia’s First Transportation Program based on an Objective, Data-Driven Prioritization Process

~CTB’s historic vote is the culmination of a multi-year effort to renew, reform and refocus Virginia’s transportation program to help deliver the new Virginia economy~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) voted on the first wave of transportation projects scored by Virginia’s new data-driven prioritization process. The process (formerly called House Bill 2 or HB2) has a new name, “SMART SCALE, Funding the Right Transportation Projects in Virginia.” SMART SCALE stands for System for the Management and Allocation of Resources for Transportation. It is a prioritization process that evaluates each project’s merits using key factors, including:  improvements to safety, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use, economic development and the environment.

The CTB approved $1.7 billion in funding to build 163 projects that were selected through the SMART SCALE process, which became law under HB2, carried by Delegate Chris Stolle in 2014. The projects, now included in the Six-Year Improvement Program, are fully funded through all phases of project development and construction.

“Virginia is the first state in the country to use an outcome-based prioritization process to select transportation projects,” said Governor McAuliffe. “My team and I were proud to work with a bipartisan coalition from the General Assembly and localities and regional bodies across the state to develop reforms that make the absolute best use of taxpayer dollars by investing in the right transportation projects. No longer are we allowing politics and wish lists determine what gets built. This process is critical to moving people, jobs, and commerce, all of which is essential to building the new Virginia economy.”

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “In the past, Virginia had a politically driven and opaque transportation funding process that was filled with uncertainty for local communities and businesses. The SMART SCALE process makes the best use of renewed state funding approved in 2013 and the recently approved federal transportation bill. Each project was scored based on its merits and value. The projects are in the six-year program, and they will get built.”

Last fall, more than 130 localities, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies submitted 321 proposed projects, totaling nearly $7 billion in funding, to be scored, with $1.7 billion in available funds. The SMART SCALE process identified projects that provided the greatest return on investment, and the results were used by the CTB to select projects for funding.

Funds were made available to communities under two new programs created by the 2015 Governor’s Omnibus Transportation bill that refocused the program on core needs and eliminated a complex and opaque set of funding programs. State and federal construction funds are distributed to three programs – 27.5% for High Priority Projects, a program for key statewide and regional projects; 27.5% for the Construction District Grants program, in which funds are distributed to each district for competition among localities; and 45% provided to the State of Good Repair program for capital reconstruction of deteriorated bridges and pavements, which is subject to a separate asset management process.

The law requires projects to be scored based on how they ease congestion, improve economic development, provide accessibility to jobs, improve safety and environmental quality, and support transportation-efficient land use. The CTB and the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment worked collaboratively with the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and local and regional governments to develop the scoring system that has been used to measure the merits of projects.

Under the reformed process, project sponsors and the business community can have certainty that a project included in the six-year program will be built. Each of the 163 projects in the program is fully funded, including details for design, right-of-way and construction.

Prior to SMART SCALE, projects were often partially funded by the state, dragging out the construction timeframe and increasing costs. Under the 2015 Governor’s Omnibus Transportation bill, once appointed, CTB members no longer serve at the direction of the Governor and can only be removed for cause. Members will be able to vote for the projects they believe are best for the Commonwealth without undue political pressure.

Comments:

House Speaker William J. Howell:

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a series of major, bipartisan steps to invest in and improve transportation in Virginia. From the legislation introduced in the House of Delegates two years ago to the efforts of Secretary Layne and the Governor’s administration, we have worked in a bipartisan fashion to develop this innovative process that I know will be a model for the nation. With SMART SCALE, we are promoting greater accountability, safeguarding against waste and ending the politicization that has been rampant in our transportation process for so long.”

 

Delegate Chris Jones:

“Over the last three years, we have made major improvements to how Virginia funds and selects its transportation projects. We made a major investment in transportation, fundamentally reformed our funding streams, and adopted an innovative and forward-thinking prioritization process that ensures the most important projects move forward first. These are major steps that will allow us to build the 21st century transportation system Virginians need and deserve. I am proud to say we are putting good governance and taxpayers ahead of partisanship and politics.”

 

Delegate Chris Stolle:

“I am pleased to see the results of our bipartisan efforts on transportation reform. These funded projects have been evaluated based on a series of objective and metric-based standards so we get the most value out of precious and limited resources.”
Delegate Vivian Watts:

“When the General Assembly passed historic transportation legislation in 2013, it became critical to make certain the monies are put to the right projects.  Project prioritization is a game-changing breakthrough in scoring and funding the right transportation projects, making localities really think through and analyze their most critical needs based on factors such as congestion reduction and better accessibility.  The result is better transportation for all of us.”

 

Senator Steve Newman:

“Virginia now has a project prioritization process that will improve transportation infrastructure by creating an objective method of distributing funds to all parts of the state to meet their needs. These changes have already helped the Lynchburg region, along with the rest of the Commonwealth, to improve our transportation system and grow our economy.”

 

Senator David Marsden:

“The funding announced today, coupled with the historic bipartisan agreement reached during session to unlock I-66, represent game-changing progress on transportation solutions for Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth as a whole.”

 

Ab Boxley, Chairman, Blue Ridge Economic Coalition:

“For the first time, Virginia has set a consistent standard and process that brings local interests together to figure out the best transportation projects based on the most pressing needs in our areas.”

 

Jim Corcoran, President & CEO, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce:

“I applaud the McAuliffe administration, Speaker Howell and transportation leaders in the General Assembly for their work on transportation reform.  Project prioritization is good for business and jobs because the right projects are getting funded, which will reduce congestion and generate more opportunities for commerce.”

Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce:

“The funding announced today and the prioritization process used to pick projects makes good business sense and will lead to reduced congestion in urban areas like Hampton Roads and better access to jobs in the more rural areas of the state.”

 

Background:

Projects met scoring requirements if they were eligible for funding under the High Priority Projects Program and the District Grant Program.  In addition, projects had to demonstrate they met a need identified in the Commonwealth’s long-range plan, VTrans2040, which examines Corridors of Statewide Significance, regional networks and improvements to promote urban development areas.  The CTB must consider highway, transit, rail, road operational improvements and transportation demand projects, including vanpooling and carpooling.
Projects funded with specialized programs, such as the federal highway safety improvement program and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program, and projects that rehabilitate aging pavements and bridges, were exempted from scoring.

SMART SCALE and State of Good Repair projects programmed in Six-Year Improvement Program (listed projects are completely funded for construction):

http://syip.virginiadot.org/reports/226/13A-FY17-FINAL-APPENDIX-A.pdf

Christopher Stolle – Doing more for Virginia’s Veterans

The Virginian Pilot – Editorial, Delegate Chris Stolle

ON MONDAY, we took time to reflect and honor our heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms. We honor not only those who lost their lives while defending our country, but the loved ones they left behind.

While Memorial Day is a special day to honor the memory of those we have lost, let’s also remember those who have fought and may still be fighting battles here at home.

As a member of the General Assembly and the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, I believe that we have an obligation to support our returning and retiring soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families. To me, supporting our troops means providing veterans the help they need when they most need it.

 Washington continues to deal with gridlock. This was evidenced last week when 15 U.S. senators signed a letter urging the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to take action on 18 stalled veterans research and outpatient clinics.

In contrast, on the state level, we have made great strides in the past few years to address key areas geared toward improving veterans’ quality of life. As we remember those who served and died, I would like to honor those who returned by highlighting some of the commonwealth’s services available to support Virginia’s veterans and their families.

Many of our veterans and their family members are seeking workforce development skills or a college degree. Spouses of active-duty military members now receive in-state tuition while living here and Virginia colleges and universities now waive the one-year residency requirement for transitioning veterans who want to make Virginia their permanent home.

Whether you are a younger service member choosing not to re-enlist or retiring after a successful career, we know you’ve developed great skills during your time in the military and we want you to use those skills here in Hampton Roads.

In 2012, we developed the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, whose mission is to educate and train employers on the value of hiring Virginia’s veterans, and to help employers connect with veterans.

More than 16,000 veterans have been hired through the V3 program, and we have just launched a new V3 Employment Grant program to incentivize employers to hire more. Additionally, this year I was proud to carry first-in-the-nation legislation that establishes a program to allow military medical personnel, who have transitioned to the civilian world, to keep using the skills they acquired in the military.

The Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen (MMAC) program will create a much-needed bridge to health care careers for our veterans. Virginia will also be the first state to partner with the DoD for transition assistance for separating service members to help them get the required civilian health care certifications.

The single greatest show of gratitude to our veterans is to support their mental and physical well-being. Virginia has housed more than 1,900 veterans since October 2014, becoming the first state to functionally end veterans’ homelessness.

But, we can do more to support the health care needs of our disabled or aging veterans. Oklahoma has half as many veterans as Virginia and three times as many veterans’ care centers.

State leaders have worked on a two-year effort to bring a veterans’ care center to Hampton Roads. We have waited for years for the federal government to fund its portion, 65 percent of construction, but the federal money never came.

We decided that Virginia’s veterans could wait no longer. The state fully funded two new care centers, one in Hampton Roads and one in Northern Virginia. I thank the city of Virginia Beach for its donation of the land and its commitment to have a facility located on the Southside that can be easily accessed by veterans and family in Hampton Roads.

Most importantly, our veterans should never feel abandoned. If you or someone you know is a veteran who needs help of any kind, DVS has partnered with Virginia 211 to provide a 24/7 hotline service. Dial 211 from a land or mobile phone for immediate assistance. On the go or overseas? The DVS mobile app is now available for both Apple and Android phones.

Virginia’s General Assembly remains committed to working with the governor, localities and employers to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.