McAuliffe on $1.5B shortfall: ‘Tough decisions ahead’

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Gov. Terry McAuliffe is warning Virginia lawmakers to brace for “tough decisions ahead” to address a roughly $1.5 billion budget shortfall. The Democratic governor told the General Assembly’s money committees Friday that budget woes are being driven by lower income and sales tax revenue collections than anticipated. The projected shortfall for the current-two year budget is $1.2 billion. That’s in addition to shortfall of about $280 million carried over from the budget year that ended June 30. McAuliffe said the state will fill some of the gap in the current fiscal first year with about $125 million that was supposed to cover raises for state employees, teachers and other state-supported workers. He proposed using another roughly $378 million from the state’s rainy-day fund; lawmakers would have to approve that.

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WDBJ7 plans moment of silence 1 year after colleagues’ fatal shooting

VT Helmet DecalROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ A Virginia television station is marking a year since two journalists were fatally shot during a live broadcast watched by thousands of viewers. The Roanoke Times reports the television station, WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, plans a moment of silence during Friday’s “Mornin” newscast. Friday marks one year since 24-year-old Alison Parker and 27-year-old Adam Ward were killed. Parker was a reporter and Ward a cameraman. They were killed by a former co-worker who later turned the weapon on himself.

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McAuliffe to update Virginia lawmakers on state budget

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to update Virginia lawmakers on the state budget. The Democratic governor will address a joint session of the House and Senate
money committees at the Capitol on Friday. McAuliffe’s budget update comes nearly two months after his administration said that it would have to hold off on giving planned raises to state employees and others because the state ended last fiscal year in June with roughly $266 million less revenue than expected. McAuliffe’s administration said that total general fund revenues grew just 1.7 percent over the fiscal year, which was far short of the 3.2 percent that officials had projected.

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Off-track betting sites may return to Virginia

AP photo

AP photo

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Off-track betting may soon be coming to the Richmond area.  The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that  the Virginia Equine Alliance recently won approval from the Virginia Racing Commission to open a satellite wagering facility in Henrico County. The alliance says it also hopes to open an off-track betting site as part of a planned brewpub in downtown Richmond. The facilities would be the first to operate in the state since Colonial Downs closed its track and off-site betting sites in 2014. Debbie Easter is president of the equine alliance, which will operate the new sites. She says they could bring in $5 million or more per year in gross revenue. The alliance hopes that will revive the industry in the state.

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Richmond school district says it welcomes dialogue on discipline

wlni-defaultRICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A spokeswoman for Richmond Public Schools say the district has already made efforts to address many of the concerns laid out in a federal complaint alleging the schools more frequently and harshly punish black students and students with disabilities than their classmates. Kenita Bowers said in a statement Wednesday that the district is “working diligently to ensure that all disciplinary actions are fair and consistent.” She says the district has moved away from “zero tolerance-based discipline.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Legal Aid Justice Center filed the complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. They’re asking federal officials to investigate Richmond Public Schools’ disciplinary policies and force the school system to make changes.Bowers says the district will fully cooperate in the investigation. She says the Richmond Public Schools system wants to find disciplinary measures that “balance safety and instruction” and welcomes the dialogue.

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Coal towns hit by layoffs to get job grants from US government

wlni-defaultHUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) – U.S. communities hard hit by coal industry layoffs in eight Appalachian states and Texas are being promised more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multimillion-dollar federal grant. Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the 29 projects totaling nearly $39 million at a news conference in Huntington, West Virginia, on Wednesday. The funding comes from a job-creation organization involving multiple federal agencies, including the U.S. Commerce and Labor departments and the regional commission. Officials say the investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and other industries. Appalachian states involved in the projects are Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The commission says about 23,000 Appalachian coal jobs were lost between 2011 and 2015.

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Jens Soering petitioning Va. governor for pardon

Jens Soering (WDBJ7 file photo)

Jens Soering (WDBJ7 file photo)

DILLWYN, Va. (AP) – A German diplomat’s son convicted of murder is petitioning Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for an “absolute pardon” and parole based largely on blood analysis.  Jens Soering is serving two life terms for the 1985 slayings of his ex-girlfriend’s parents. The Washington Post  reports that Soering’s petition submitted to McAuliffe this week says a blood analysis concludes that Soering, who has Type O blood, was not the source of at least some of the Type O blood found at the scene.  The 50-year-old Soering spoke to the paper in a phone interview from Buckingham Correctional Center outside Dillwyn, Virginia.  Soering initially confessed to killing the couple but then recanted. He said his then-girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, killed her parents and told him afterward. Haysom is serving a 90-year sentence.

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New grants aim to make higher education more accessible

Education-News1RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia is launching a new grant program aimed at making higher education affordable for more students.

The grants will be given to two- and four-year higher education institutions that have a partnership with a pre-K through 12th grade program.

The money will allow higher education institutions to implement and expand programs that help students get early college credit and improve completion rates.

As many as four institutions will receive grants up to $140,000 each.Gov. Terry McAuliffe says the money will ensure the state’s higher education system is “accessible and affordable for all Virginia students.”

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Scott Walker to help fundraise for Ed Gillespie

Ed Gillespie

Ed Gillespie

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is set to help raise money for Virginia GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Walker, who briefly ran for president, will attend a fundraiser for Gillespie next month at a private home in Northern Virginia.

Donations are expected to be as high as $25,000.

Gillespie is the former Republican National Committee chairman who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He’s one of three Republicans who have announced their intentions to seek the GOP nomination for the 2017 gubernatorial race. U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman and Corey Stewart, who is Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign chairman, have also said they plan to run for the Republican nomination.

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7 Virginia Congress members ask for no retrial of McDonnell

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Several members of Virginia’s congressional delegation are asking Attorney General Loretta Lynch not to bring another case against former Gov. Bob McDonnell.

In a letter recently sent to the U.S. Justice Department, Republican Rep. Scott Rigell and others say it would be “unwise and unfair” to retry McDonnell after the Supreme Court unanimously overturned his corruption conviction in June. The letter says McDonnell’s family has suffered financially and emotionally over the past three years.

McDonnell, a Republican, was convicted for doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for gifts and loans. The Supreme Court said McDonnell’s actions were distasteful but didn’t necessarily violate federal bribery laws.

Democratic Rep. Don Beyer and Republican Reps. David Brat, Barbara Comstock, Randy Forbes, Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman also signed the letter.

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