Governor Ralph S. Northam

2019
A Year in Review

And a look ahead...

Economic Opportunity for All
Building an Economy That Works for Every Virginian

Securing a strong, stable, and growing economy, where every Virginian has an opportunity to participate in the Commonwealth’s progress, has been a top priority for Governor Northam since day one.

In July, Virginia celebrated an historic achievement when CNBC named the Commonwealth America’s “Top State for Business” in 2019. CNBC highlighted Virginia’s highly educated workforce, strong economic growth, and stable business climate, and gave the Commonwealth top scores for education, access to capital, and technology and innovation.

CNBC determined its ranking following an extensive study of all 50 states based on 64 metrics in 10 categories. Virginia is now tied with Texas for most years named “Top State for Business” by CNBC, with previous wins in 2007, 2009, and 2011.

The recognition by CNBC underscores the Administration’s ongoing efforts to build an inclusive and diversified economy, invest in Virginia’s workforce, and create quality jobs in every region of the Commonwealth.

CNBC noted that the most significant factor driving its designation was the Commonwealth’s world-class workforce, which ranked as the best in the nation and accounted for more than a quarter of Virginia’s overall score. The Commonwealth also has the fourth highest concentration of STEM talent in the nation.

Virginia’s strong workforce score is the result of the Commonwealth’s dedication to offering turnkey, customized solutions to help train Virginians to meet companies’ workforce needs, including the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program. This new program is delivered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Community College System and helps to rapidly re-skill a region’s workforce to the exact requirements of a new employer.

As part of his enduring commitment to rural Virginia, Governor Northam has worked over the past year to ensure every part of the Commonwealth benefits from Amazon’s decision to make Northern Virginia its new home. In October, the Governor hosted a roundtable in St. Paul with officials from Amazon’s second headquarters and community and business leaders in Southwest Virginia to discuss strategies for attracting more jobs and investment to the region.

In October, Governor Northam launched Opportunity Virginia to support his efforts to ensure every community can participate in the Commonwealth’s economic progress. This new initiative helps leverage the federal Opportunity Zone program by connecting Virginia communities in Opportunity Zones with investors and encouraging fair and equitable access to resources.

Pursuing Economic Growth That is Inclusive and Equitable

To bolster the Administration’s efforts to improve economic opportunity for all Virginians, Governor Northam signed an executive order in July that aims to help small-, women-, minority- (SWaM) and service disabled veteran-owned businesses grow and succeed.

The executive order:

  • Directs executive branch agencies and institutions of higher education that have statutory authority over procurement to achieve a target of procuring 42 percent of discretionary spending from SWaM-certified and service disabled veteran-owned businesses;
  • Maintains a set-aside for certified micro businesses, which have fewer than 25 employees and no more than $3 million in average annual revenue over a three-year period; and
  • Requires an updated disparity study showing marketplace inequities among women- and minority-owned businesses.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam proposed $1.4 million to establish and support a statewide unit to strategically source small-, women-, and minority-owned (SWaM) business participation on large dollar Commonwealth contracts.

Economic Opportunity for All
Promoting Virginia Around the World

Governor Northam knows that international trade is a powerful economic engine for the Commonwealth and remains focused on helping Virginia businesses compete in today’s global marketplace.

The uncertainty around federal trade policy has led Virginia to step up and promote its assets. This fall, Governor Northam announced the first-ever comprehensive International Trade Strategic Plan for Virginia. The plan outlines policies to support existing businesses in building their capabilities and expanding networks and markets, while also attracting and promoting export-intensive companies that can serve as anchors and drive economic growth.

The Governor’s plan aligns the international trade efforts of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Port of Virginia, to lay out an aggressive goal to expand the Commonwealth’s international trade output by 50 percent over the next 15 years, increasing Virginia’s position from 41st in exports per capita to the top 20 states for exports per capita by 2035.

In today’s global economy, a personal touch matters—that’s why Governor Northam has made it a priority to market all that Virginia has to offer across the country and around the world. In 2019, the Northam Administration completed seven international trade and marketing missions to 10 countries: Colombia, France, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Israel, Cuba, and the United Arab Emirates.

These missions help connect Virginia businesses and agricultural producers with export opportunities and share the Virginia story with businesses and trading partners around the world who are interested in buying goods and services from the Commonwealth. Governor Northam also hosted several ambassadors at the Executive Mansion in Richmond to discuss the Commonwealth’s international trade relationships and encourage investment in Virginia.

Agricultural and forestry exports are growing in Virginia, currently valued at $2.95 billion and by volume, account for more than one-third of containerized exports moving through the Port of Virginia. The Commonwealth’s top trading partners include Canada, China, Mexico, and Switzerland.

Economic Opportunity for All
Growing the Commonwealth's Agricultural Economy

Governor Northam believes that continued and expanded investment is a critical component of growing Virginia’s agricultural economy and creating opportunities for rural communities to thrive.

Agriculture has been a central pillar of Virginia’s economy for centuries and continues to pave the way for smart growth and prosperity in rural and urban communities. The largest private sector industry in the Commonwealth, agriculture employs over 334,000 Virginians and contributes $70 billion annually to the state’s economy.

With over 44,000 farms, Virginia has one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in the nation. The Commonwealth is now home to nearly 300 wineries—the sixth-largest wine region in the United States—and the wine industry generates $1.37 billion annually in economic impact and supports more than 8,000 Virginia jobs.

Virginia farmers have faced headwinds in recent years, from low commodity prices and farm income, to frayed trade relations with key markets, to unpredictable weather patterns and a changing climate. But provisions in the federal Farm Bill legalizing the production of industrial hemp are giving farmers access to an emerging market that was previously only authorized for research purposes.

In March, Governor Northam signed legislation aligning Virginia with the federal Farm Bill and creating the Commonwealth’s new industrial hemp program. Since that time, there has been tremendous growth in the industry. To date, the Commonwealth has issued 1,260 Industrial Hemp Grower registrations, 297 Industrial Hemp Processor registrations, and 144 Industrial Hemp Dealer registrations compared to the preceding research program which only had 85 registered growers with just 135 acres of hemp planted. In October, Governor Northam announced that the Commonwealth’s first commercial industrial hemp fiber processing facility will locate in Wythe County.

To help grow existing agribusinesses and attract new investment, Governor Northam awarded 14 Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) grants in 2019—the fastest pace of any administration. In total, these projects represent a capital investment of nearly $86 million, the creation of 302 new jobs, and purchase commitments of more than $120 million in Virginia-grown products. Of the 32 AFID grants the Governor has awarded since taking office, 27 have been in rural communities.

Economic Opportunity for All
Expanding Virginia’s Outdoor Economy

Governor Northam is working to promote and grow the outdoor industry across the Commonwealth, thanks to countless outdoor recreation companies, diverse natural assets, and a workforce emboldened by the outdoors.

In July, Governor Northam established a new Office of Outdoor Recreation to lead efforts to promote Virginia’s unique outdoor assets and recreation opportunities and recruit outdoor businesses to the Commonwealth. The outdoor recreation industry contributes nearly $22 billion annually to Virginia’s economy, employs more than 197,000 Virginians, and is a key driver behind the Commonwealth’s $26 billion tourism industry.

Virginia became the 15th state in the nation to establish an office or task force dedicated to strengthening the outdoor industry, and the third on the East Coast. In October, Virginia committed to advancing the principles of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Confluence Accords, bringing the total number of signatories to an historic thirteen.

In establishing a statewide Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Administration is recognizing the importance of this industry as a true driver of economic development and demonstrating why Virginia is the natural fit for outdoor business. Not only does Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry generate $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenues, it is a critical component of the quality of life and sense of place that Virginia’s top workforce has grown to love. Outdoor recreation not only improves the growth potential of communities across Virginia, but it also aligns with the Administration’s goals on land conservation, workforce development, and public health.

The Office of Outdoor Recreation is spearheading an initiative to recruit manufacturers of outdoor products, such as kayaks, bicycles, and gear, to locate or expand in the Commonwealth and produce their goods in the state—spurring job creation and private investment, while creating opportunities for outdoor tourism focused partnerships and on-site demo experiences.

 

Economic Opportunity for All
Connecting Virginia to Broadband

In a 21st century economy, internet connectivity is tied to every facet of daily life, from education to business to health care—that’s why Governor Northam has made it a priority to deploy targeted funding to help close the digital divide in Virginia, incentivizing investments in the necessary infrastructure to expand affordable and reliable broadband service to currently unserved rural communities across the Commonwealth.

Since Governor Northam took office in January 2018, Virginia has invested nearly $25 million in rural broadband development to support the connections of approximately 70,000 previously unserved households, businesses, and community anchor institutions across 27 localities.

Supporting the Governor’s vision is the Commonwealth Connect Coalition, a partnership of 111 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to trade associations to broadband providers, all dedicated to the goal of universal broadband in Virginia.

In 2019, Governor Northam visited six localities to celebrate grant awardees and traveled to Grayson County to recognize innovative legislation allowing Virginia’s investor-owned utilities to help deliver broadband to unserved communities. 

In addition, the state’s broadband program, the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), with support from the General Assembly, received a significant boost in funding, increasing from $4 million to $19 million. VATI received 39 applications requesting $43.6 million in funding from 55 localities partnering with 23 different internet service providers—applications which leveraged $58 million in private and local spending.

The Administration has also made it a priority to close the internet connectivity gap in Virginia schools. In 2015, only about 46 percent of Virginia students attended schools that met or exceeded the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) standard for internet access. As of November, virtually all of Virginia’s 1.3 million public school students attend schools that meet or exceed the FCC standard.

Efforts by the Virginia Department of Education to assist school divisions in expanding internet access have resulted in the cost of broadband decreasing by 84 percent.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget adds an additional $16 million a year on top of the $19 million allocated annually in last year’s budget, a total of $35 million each year to further expand broadband in the Commonwealth.

Economic Opportunity for All
Enhancing Quality, Affordable Housing in Virginia

Governor Northam has taken significant actions over the past year to address the shortage of quality affordable housing, increase the supply of permanent supportive housing, and reduce the rate of evictions in Virginia.

After Governor Northam signed an executive order in 2018 to accelerate the Commonwealth’s efforts in meeting affordable housing demands, he worked with the General Assembly to increase the Virginia Housing Trust Fund (VHTF) to $11 million in 2019, strengthening one of the state’s most flexible tools to combat homelessness and provide affordable housing and permanent supportive housing. As a result, the Commonwealth was able to finance 43 affordable housing and homelessness reduction initiatives that support low-income families this fiscal year.

Governor Northam announced funding for 13 projects through a competitive loan fund to create and preserve affordable housing units. Coupled with additional federal resources, this program will help to create or preserve 1,283 affordable housing units for low-income and very low-income Virginians. With the VHTF increase, seven additional projects received funding in this grant cycle that would not have been funded previously. These projects are focused on affordable new construction, rehabilitation of affordable housing units, and permanent supportive housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Virginia has seen a continued drop in homelessness, with the most recent data showing a 36 percent reduction in overall homelessness since 2010. Homelessness among veterans has decreased 48 percent since 2011, and in 2015, Virginia became the first state in the country to functionally end veteran homelessness. These successes have been driven by the leadership of the Governor’s Coordinating Council on Homelessness, collaboration between state and local partners, and the allocation of funding to support a systematic approach at the community level. In April, Governor Northam announced $2.2 million in Homeless Reduction Grants through the VHTF for 30 projects in Virginia, with the new funding supporting 16 additional projects.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly authorized an eviction diversion pilot program that will launch in four communities in July 2020 to help address the high eviction rates in Virginia. Governor Northam supported an additional $1.3 million allocated to fund 17 housing attorneys in legal aid offices around the Commonwealth. The Virginia Poverty Law Center also received private funding to create an evictions helpline, growing the legal aid opportunities for individuals facing eviction.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes $92 million to address homelessness, expand the supply of affordable housing, reduce eviction rates, and provide permanent supportive housing for populations with
special needs.

Economic Opportunity for All
Keeping Our Forests Safe, Healthy, and Sustainable

With nearly 16 million acres of forest land in the Commonwealth, Virginia’s forestry industry has an annual economic impact of more than $21 billion and provides over 100,000 jobs.

Governor Northam is committed to conserving Virginia’s forestland and responsibly managing healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.

In August, Governor Northam announced the largest conservation easement in Virginia history through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This easement, which is being held by VDOF, will permanently protect 22,856 acres of forest land in Russell County and is part of a larger 153,000-acre conservation transaction by The Nature Conservancy. In addition to providing environmental benefits such as protecting a key part of the Clinch River watershed, one of the most biodiverse river systems in North America, this working forestry easement serves as a model for sustainability, making important contributions to the rural economy, and supporting local jobs in
Southwest Virginia.

In October, Governor Northam commemorated the 100th anniversary of Virginia’s state forests with the dedication of the Commonwealth’s newest state forest—First Mountain State Forest—in Rockingham County. First Mountain encompasses 573 acres of hardwood and pine stands, as well as open fields and more than 21,700 feet of stream frontage. With the addition of the 25th state forest, there are now more than 69,000 acres of state forestland in Virginia managed by VDOF.

While Virginia’s forests provide recreation, cultural and heritage resources, scenery, and support rural economies, they also play a very important role in keeping the air and water clean and protecting space for fish and wildlife.

This year, Governor Northam launched the James River Buffer Program, a partnership of VDOF and the James River Association, to restore river and streamside trees, shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation that grow along local waterways in the Middle James region of the river. In addition to providing valuable habitat for wildlife, these streamside forests are one of the most cost-effective mechanisms for capturing pollution from the land and improving the water quality of important waterways like the James River.

Economic Opportunity for All
Combatting Worker Misclassification and Wage Theft

The misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” creates a competitive disadvantage for Virginia businesses that follow the law, deprives the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in tax revenues necessary to supply services to Virginia’s citizens, and prevents workers from receiving protections and benefits.

An estimated 214,000 Virginia employees are currently misclassified as “independent contractors” by their employers. In August, Governor Northam signed an executive order reauthorizing the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Worker Misclassification and Wage Theft and directed the Taskforce to provide him with recommendations in advance of the 2020 General Assembly session.

The Inter-Agency Taskforce, co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and the Governor’s Chief Workforce Advisor, includes representatives from the Virginia Employment Commission, the Department of General Services, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, the Department of Taxation, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the Office of the Attorney General.

The recommendations for administrative, legislative, and budgetary actions were informed by research and public comment and seek to provide a path forward for possible strategies to combat worker misclassification. Among other remedies, the Taskforce recommended increased education for employers and employees, additional funding for investigations into possible wrongdoing, and harsher penalties for businesses that illegally misclassify their workers.

A 21st Century Transportation System
Moving Forward: Investing in Infrastructure

Virginia’s roads, bridges, and rail build connections. In 2019, the Northam Administration made substantial progress with transformative infrastructure investments that will keep moving people and the economy forward.

In 2019, the Northam Administration continued to revitalize transportation infrastructure in every region of the Commonwealth. Governor Northam worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle to reach a breakthrough agreement to fund $2.2 billion in critical improvements along the Interstate 81 Corridor, marking the first time that I-81 has had a dedicated funding stream. Governor Northam signed the bipartisan legislation in June, which will provide more than $150 million in funding each year for projects prioritized in the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program once fully implemented. These improvements will help reduce 6 million hours of delay and eliminate 450 crashes each year on I-81. The legislation also identifies improvements that will make all Virginia interstates safer and more reliable and provides $130 million per year for future projects on I-81 and other interstates, including I-95 and I-64.

In April, Governor Northam announced the signing of contracts critical to the $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion, which represents the largest project in the history of the Virginia Department of Transportation. The expansion will add two new two-lane tunnels and widen the four-lane sections of I-64 in Hampton. It is projected to bolster economic competitiveness in the Hampton Roads region with more than $4.6 billion in investments and 28,000 new jobs over the life of the project.

After months of collaboration and negotiation, Governor Northam announced an agreement for Transurban to deliver four critical transportation projects that will add significant value for citizens and businesses throughout Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg, totaling $1 billion.

The projects include:

  • “Fred Ex,” which will expand the I-95 Express Lanes 10 miles to Fredericksburg;
  • “Project NEXT,” which will extend the I-495 Express Lanes 2.5 miles north to the American Legion Bridge;
  • A new, reversible ramp connecting the existing I-95 Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard, providing improved access to Potomac Mills and Sentara Virginia Medical Center; and
  • Construction of a new southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane on I-95 in Woodbridge.

In November, after decades of delay, Governor Northam joined Maryland’s Governor to announce an agreement to finally replace the aging American Legion Bridge, expand bicycle and pedestrian access, and relieve congestion at one of the country’s worst traffic chokepoints. This project will complement ongoing plans by both governors in their jurisdictions to advance a region-wide vision for a seamless network of reliable travel options around the Capital Beltway, and along Interstates 95, 395, 66, and 270.

The new American Legion Bridge will be delivered in coordination with these other projects and will leverage private capital through public-private partnerships, reducing the need for public funding and shifting key traffic and construction risks to the private sector.

Just days after announcing the bi-state, bipartisan accord to create a new, unified Capital Beltway, Governor Northam celebrated the opening of the new I-395 Express Lanes, an eight-mile extension that provides seamless connectivity between Fairfax County and Washington, D.C.

In December, Governor Northam announced a landmark agreement with CSX to expand reliability and service on Virginia’s rail lines, creating a pathway to separate passenger and freight operations along the Richmond to Washington, D.C. corridor.

The $3.7 billion investment will include:

  • A new Virginia-owned Long Bridge across the Potomac River, with tracks dedicated exclusively to passenger and commuter rail;
  • The acquisition of more than 350 miles of railroad right-of-way and 225 miles of track; and
  • 37 miles of new track improvements, including a Franconia-Springfield bypass.

Over the next 10 years, the agreement will double the number of Virginia Amtrak trains, enhance round-trip Amtrak service to Hampton Roads, provide nearly hourly Amtrak service between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, and increase Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service along I-95 by 75 percent, with more frequent trains and weekend service.

Governor Northam is committed to delivering generational change to Virginia’s multimodal transportation system, and 2019 marks important progress towards the Governor’s vision of moving people and goods across the state safely and reliably.

Creating Opportunities for Virginia’s Minority Businesses

Governor Northam has made it a priority to facilitate opportunities for certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and small, women-owned, and minority-owned (SWaM) subcontractors to bid on as much as $1 billion of contract work that will be critical to the completion of the HRBT expansion. In September, the Governor kicked off an event designed to connect DBE and SWaM businesses with key decision makers on contract opportunities for this historic project.

A 21st Century Transportation System
Soaring to New Heights: A Promising Future for Space Flight

Virginia is home to one of just four licensed spaceports in the country. The Commonwealth continues to lead in aerospace, from classified national security missions to innovations in commercial space flight.

Last year Governor Northam announced that Rocket Lab, a global leader in small satellite launches, had selected the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at Wallops Island for its first launch facility in the United States.

Strong collaboration among Rocket Lab, the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility resulted in the completion of the new launch site, known as Launch Complex-2, or LC-2, in record time.

Construction began in February and the launch pad was completed in December, with launches expected to begin in early 2020. Rocket Lab’s agile, low-cost rockets enable the aerospace company to launch into space more rapidly and more frequently than traditional rockets would allow.

This year, Virginia also celebrated the launch of two successful cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) from Virginia Space’s MARS Pad 0A located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

The April mission supported more than 40 research experiments in areas like medicine, aerospace, and astrophysics, and marked the inaugural voyage of Virginia Space’s ThinSats, which are small satellites carrying student experiments capable of transmitting data from low earth orbit. Another successful launch in November delivered scientific investigations, supplies, and vehicle hardware for the orbital laboratory and its crew at the ISS.

Virginia Space and Northrop Grumman formed a public-private partnership to develop and accommodate the loading of time-sensitive experiments as late as 24 hours before liftoff, eliminating the previous four-day pre-loading requirement. Launch pad modifications were completed this year, expanding the range of missions that can be launched from the MARS facility, like the scientific investigations on the ISS resupply mission
in April.

In July, Governor Northam celebrated the completion of the Commonwealth’s newest facility to prepare rockets and payloads for launch at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Payload Processing Facility (MARS PPF) can accommodate classified national security missions and represents a major expansion in capabilities for the spaceport’s government and commercial customers.

The Northam Administration will continue to make critical investments that position the Commonwealth as a leader in the growing aerospace industry, ensuring that Virginia remains a world-class center for space exploration and commerce for decades to come.

A 21st Century Transportation System
Expanding the Port of Virginia: The Future of Global Trade

To grow and diversify Virginia’s economy, the Commonwealth must cement its position as a gateway to global markets—by investing in our world-class port.

The Port of Virginia is moving record-setting volumes and continues to be a catalyst for commerce in the Commonwealth. In fiscal year 2019, the Port attracted 45 new businesses to Virginia, bringing in $2 billion of investment and creating 2,800 new jobs. The Port generates $92 billion of economic impact annually throughout the Commonwealth.

In July, Governor Northam celebrated the completion of the Port of Virginia’s $320 million expansion at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) container terminal. This investment ensures the Port is well positioned to handle peak season volumes, moving cargo more safely, efficiently, and sustainably than ever before. This project also represents a significant milestone in the $750 million investment underway to increase cargo and container capacity at the Port’s two major terminals, with an overall goal of increasing capacity by 40 percent.

Dredging that is currently underway will make the Port of Virginia the East Coast’s deepest port. The first phase of deepening to 55 feet began in December, nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule.

In addition to the efficiencies gained from new capacity, turn times for motor carriers calling at the terminal have improved and are now well below the industry standard of one hour.

This is in part due to a newly-implemented reservation system, which is driving an even flow of trucks through the gates each day, helping terminal staff prepare for the next day, and increasing the number of lanes at the truck processing gate to four. Additionally, productivity increases can be linked to a larger rail yard, greater capacity for refrigerated cargo, and key technology advancements.

Working for All Virginians
Building a More Equal, Inclusive, and Just Commonwealth

Governor Northam is committed to making Virginia more welcoming, equitable,
and representative of all the people who call the Commonwealth home.

Below are four key actions that represent the Administration’s efforts over the past year to continue building a Virginia that is more fair, just, and respectful. Throughout this report, blue text boxes highlight the Administration’s ongoing work to right historical inequities in areas like education, healthcare, and access to business opportunities.

Appointing Virginia’s First-Ever Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In September, Governor Northam appointed Virginia’s first-ever Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Working closely with members of the Administration, Dr. Janice Underwood is developing a sustainable framework to promote inclusive practices across Virginia state government; executing a measurable, strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices; and facilitating ways to turn feedback from state employees, external stakeholders, and community leaders into concrete equity policy.

Ending Driver’s License Suspensions for Unpaid Court Fines and Costs

A driver’s license is critical to daily life, including a person’s ability to maintain a job and provide for their family. For too long, Virginia courts have engaged in the counterproductive practice of suspending driving privileges for failure to pay court fines and costs, a policy which disproportionately impacts the most economically-disadvantaged Virginians. In March, Governor Northam announced a budget amendment to prohibit the courts from suspending driving privileges for nonpayment of court fines and costs and waive the associated reinstatement fees. The provisions were ultimately adopted by the General Assembly—as a result, more than 600,000 individuals became eligible to get their driver’s licenses back.

After the measure went into effect on July 1, Governor Northam embarked on a tour around the Commonwealth, to help eligible Virginians get their licenses back. He visited a total of 10 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles mobile operations units in July and August, thanking the hardworking staff and raising awareness about this important policy change.

In the upcoming General Assembly session, Governor Northam will work with legislators to permanently repeal the policy of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fines and costs.

Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law

In June, Governor Northam signed an executive order establishing the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. The nine-member Commission reviewed the Virginia Acts of Assembly, the Code of Virginia, and administrative regulations with the goal of identifying and making recommendations to address laws that were intended to or could have the effect of promoting or enabling racial discrimination or inequity.

In December, Governor Northam joined members of the Commission as they presented their interim report identifying dozens of instances of overtly discriminatory language still on Virginia’s books. This includes laws banning school integration, prohibiting black and white Virginians from living in the same neighborhoods, and prohibiting interracial marriage. While many of these Acts have been overturned by court decisions or subsequent legislation, they remain enshrined in law. Governor Northam is committed to repealing this racially discriminatory language during the upcoming General Assembly session.

Removal of Arch and References to Jefferson Davis Memorial Park at Fort Monroe

At Governor Northam’s direction, letters that spelled “Jefferson Davis Memorial Park” were removed from an iron archway and memorial park at Fort Monroe in Hampton. This is believed to be first the Confederate monument or memorial intentionally removed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In April, Governor Northam wrote to the Fort Monroe Authority’s (FMA) Historic Preservation Officer requesting the removal of the arch and renaming of the park, noting that a memorial glorifying the President of the Confederacy has no place at the site of the first arrival of enslaved people in British North America. Upon receiving the request to remove the arch, the FMA conducted a transparent process and followed the protocols and procedures laid out by the governing documents for Fort Monroe. On April 18, the FMA board voted unanimously in favor of removing the arch.

As of August 2, the arch and park no longer bear the name “Jefferson Davis” and interpretive signs have been installed on the ramparts at the foot of the hill that contextualize the arch, the park, and the full history of Fort Monroe. The letters have been placed inside the Casemate Museum on the grounds of Fort Monroe.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes $1.2 million to fully fund the Office of Diversity,
Equity, and Inclusion to continue its critical work.
The work of the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law is slated to continue after the 2020 legislative session where members will focus on identifying laws that, while appearing race-neutral or non-discriminatory on their face, have the effect of perpetuating discrimination and racial inequity.

Working for All Virginians
Serving People Better, Boosting Community Engagement

The Northam Administration is working to make state government resources more accessible to Virginia residents.

To continue fostering a state government that is open and welcoming, the Office of the Governor and the Secretary of the Commonwealth revamped the Office of Constituent Services and Community Engagement in 2019. This redesign and expansion aim to better serve residents of the Commonwealth by providing additional opportunities for Virginians to directly engage with the Administration.

In addition to producing a bi-weekly newsletter and creating a more user-friendly website and online resources, the office appointed Constituency Directors and Regional Leads to better support Virginians in every region of the Commonwealth, including the Director of African American Outreach, the Director of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Outreach, the Director of Latino Outreach, the Director of LGBTQ Outreach, and the Director of Women’s Outreach. Since restructuring, staff have traveled more than 5,700 miles throughout Virginia, engaging more than 6,200 people, facilitating quarterly community office hours, and hosting events with an inclusive lens.

In his first two years in office, Governor Northam has appointed 1,347 individuals to serve on Virginia’s boards and commissions. These appointments continue to closely reflect the demographic composition of the Commonwealth’s population: 51 percent male and 43 percent female (6 percent undisclosed); 62 percent Caucasian, 20 percent African American, 5 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent AAPI (8 percent other or undisclosed).

In 2019, the Northam Administration appointed the first-ever Advisory Board Administrator to strengthen partnerships with the executive branch advisory boards, which include the Virginia African American Advisory Board, the Virginia Asian Advisory Board, the Virginia Latino Advisory Board, and the Virginia Council on Women.

Over the past year, these boards have facilitated a number of town halls, forums, and summits, providing Virginians with a more direct line of communication with the Governor’s Office.


Governor Northam believes that building a more accessible, inclusive, and equitable Commonwealth means ensuring the voices of all Virginians are heard—particularly those from underrepresented and historically disenfranchised communities.
After signing legislation in March establishing the Virginia African American Advisory Board, Governor Northam appointed a strong roster of board members from around the Commonwealth representing a multitude of industries that include business, education, and healthcare.
Since its formation, the board has continued to work closely with the Administration to advance policies and legislation to promote the economic, social, educational, and cultural wellbeing of the African American community in Virginia.

Working for All Virginians
Helping People in Need

The Northam Administration is taking action to empower foster families, expand child care, and increase access to job training for people who have been historically underserved.

In 2019, Governor Northam signed major legislation to improve Virginia’s foster care system and help children grow up in safe, supportive, and loving homes. This included a bill creating a new state position to oversee foster care health and safety.

In March, joined by a bipartisan group of legislators, government officials, and leaders from the business and faith communities, Governor Northam helped launch Virginia Fosters, a new statewide campaign working to empower foster families and kids, increase the number of foster homes, and support more children across Virginia.

The Northam Administration is also working to support low-income families by helping them pay for child care so they can work or attend school.

As a result of focused efforts by the Virginia Department of Social Services and local departments of social services, the Commonwealth is serving over 24,000 children through the Child Care Subsidy program, the largest number in three years.

Under Governor Northam’s leadership, Virginia’s workforce development system has been reoriented to increase economic equity. The Virginia Board for Workforce Development, the state board that advises the Governor on workforce policy, reorganized its committee focus to prioritize an equity lens. Governor Northam also allocated $1.3 million in discretionary funding to strengthen coordination between local workforce development offices and local departments of social services and increase access to workforce and job training services for historically underserved populations.

A look ahead…

The Governor’s proposed budget makes generational investments in early childhood education, workforce development, and more.

Working for All Virginians
Everyone Counts: The 2020 Census

Together with the Virginia Complete Count Commission, the Northam Administration is working diligently to ensure that Virginia is ready for the 2020 Census.

Governor Northam signed an executive order in December 2018 establishing the Virginia Complete Count Commission for the 2020 Census. Members quickly got to work, enlisting a broad range of stakeholders and constituencies that have historically been considered hard-to-count populations.

On April 1, Governor Northam and staff held events across the Commonwealth for Census Awareness Day, marking the one-year countdown to the 2020 Census.

Governor Northam fought to fully fund Virginia’s education, outreach, and preparation efforts during the 2019 budget process. When the General Assembly failed to include census funding in the budget, Governor Northam authorized up to $1.5 million from the Economic Contingency Fund to help the Commonwealth develop and distribute resource materials, maximize public education efforts, and  support outreach initiatives of the Virginia Complete Count Commission.

Over the last year, the Virginia Complete Count Commission has developed partnerships with local complete count committees, facilitated six regional town halls and job fairs, and hosted monthly constituency-specific statewide engagement conference calls—answering questions about the upcoming census and educating thousands of Virginians about the importance of having a complete and accurate count.

What’s at stake in the 2020 Census?

Census data is used to determine how the federal government distributes more than $675 billion in federal funding to states each year.

The George Washington Institute of Public Policy estimates that for each person not counted, the Commonwealth could lose up to $2,000 in federal dollars each year—or up to $20,000 over a 10-year period. In 2016, Virginia received $17.7 billion through 55 federal programs because of data from the 2010 Census, including $4.5 billion for Medicaid and nearly $1.2 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In the 2010 Census, over one million children under the age of five were not counted, and Virginia was ranked as the eighth highest state in the country for the number of uncounted children.

Working for All Virginians
Protecting Your Money and Cutting Bureaucracy

Governor Northam continues to champion bipartisan initiatives that make state government more efficient and ensure the Commonwealth is a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

After Governor Northam signed legislation in February to conform Virginia’s tax laws to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Virginia Department of Taxation began processing individual income tax returns, coordinating efforts with the Virginia Department of the Treasury to issue over 2.6 million tax relief checks to eligible taxpayers over a three-week period. Governor Northam praised the Department of Taxation for quickly working through a backlog of over one million individual income tax returns that built up while awaiting action from the General Assembly.

Governor Northam signed bipartisan legislation in 2018 to establish a pilot program for regulatory reform with the Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. In 2019, the two agencies exceeded their first-year cost reduction target of 7.5 percent.

The Northam Administration will continue to work with the General Assembly to review these requirements—particularly as they relate to the biennial budget—to determine whether duplicative or unnecessary reports can be streamlined or eliminated.

Working for All Virginians
Empowering and Honoring Virginia’s Indian Tribes

In 2019, the Northam Administration took several important steps to honor the tribal history of Virginia Indians and ensure they have an enduring home to continue their sacred traditions in the Commonwealth.

The Northam Administration has continued to support Virginia’s eleven state-recognized Indian tribes and build strong government-to-government relationships with the seven federally recognized tribes, including hosting roundtables with leadership from tribal governments and state agencies.

A representative from the Office of the Governor attended nearly every powwow and major event held
by a state-recognized tribe in 2019, just as the Administration did in 2018. Governor Northam participated in two annual commemorative events, honoring the 306th Spotswood Treaty tribute and the 342nd tax tribute, which marks the anniversary of the Treaty of Middle Plantation.

In June, Governor Northam announced an important land acquisition by the Chickahominy Tribe. The 105-acre site, known as Chickahominy on the
Powhatan, along the James River was purchased with the assistance of a grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation.

The land, upriver from historic Jamestown Island, will be permanently protected from development and will provide a location to showcase the culture, history, and traditions of the Chickahominy Tribe. In addition to its cultural importance, the property was identified by the Commonwealth’s new data-driven approach to land conservation, ConserveVirginia, for its ability to reduce flooding and protect wetlands.

In August, Governor Northam signed a land trust agreement with the Mattaponi Indian Tribe, formally transferring over 100 acres of land to the reservation in King William County and almost doubling the size of the current reservation. Over the past decade, the Mattaponi have purchased and re-acquired over 100 acres of private land that had once been part of the reservation. These land parcels will now be held in trust for the benefit of the Tribe, and the Mattaponi will have complete control over the land. Governor Northam visited the reservation to commemorate the occasion and joined tribal members at their annual Homecoming and Revival.

Working for All Virginians
Supporting State Workers

In 2019, the Northam Administration continued to support state employees, implementing policies to increase equity, enhance workplace culture, and improve  hiring processes.

In January 2019, Virginia implemented a new workplace policy to foster inclusivity and ensure safe and healthy work environments for state employees.

This policy emphasizes diversity and inclusion, strictly prohibits workplace harassment, bullying, and violence of any kind, and emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability of employees while at work.

The Northam Administration has also continued to engage state employees outside of the workplace. In its second year, the OnTheSquareVA program hosted its weekly farmers’ market and food truck series and organized approximately 85 events to help better connect state employees and their families, including blood drives, book clubs, cornhole and fishing tournaments, and networking conversations.

Employment Equity Initiative

In June 2019, Governor Northam announced the implementation of a two-part state Employment Equity Initiative designed to position the Commonwealth as a leader in equitable pay and employment. It included a modern, streamlined, and competitive application process, along with revisions to the state compensation policy, to support fair and equitable pay for more than 100,000 state workers. These changes, which went into effect on July 1, 2019, will help ensure that the Commonwealth’s hiring processes are free of unconscious bias.

First Lady Pamela Northam's Year in Review
When children thrive, Virginia Thrives

In 2019, First Lady Pamela Northam traveled more than 3,300 miles across the Commonwealth engaging teachers, children, parents, experts, and community leaders about strengthening early childhood care and education, and gathering valuable feedback on how the state can better serve its youngest citizens. Many of these conversations took place as she made 42 stops in 27 localities during her second annual Back to School Tour.

The First Lady has remained focused on laying the groundwork for transformative improvements in Virginia’s early childhood care and education system. She worked closely with Virginia’s Chief School Readiness Officer, Jenna Conway, to support deployment of nearly $10 million in federal funding in ten pilot communities through the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), which included over 575 sites and more than 2,500 teachers.

With a majority of the funding going to local committees, this grant has enabled Virginia to gather more data on school readiness and test new approaches to preparing Virginia’s most vulnerable children for success. Through these federal funds, an additional 6,500 children gained access to early childhood care and education, and waitlists for programs were reduced by more than 90 percent. In December, Virginia received $33.5 million in federal funding to continue and expand its PDG initiatives to additional communities.

With her experience as a pediatric occupational therapist and science educator, the First Lady is championing efforts to strengthen STEM education in Virginia. In addition to her role as Chair of the Children’s Cabinet, she serves as Chair of the Virginia STEM Education Commission that Governor Northam established in July. The First Lady has helped bring together leaders in education, science, and business to ensure that every Virginian can participate in the Commonwealth’s robust STEM ecosystem.

The First Lady believes every child is capable of success when they have the opportunity to build a strong foundation in their early years, but too many children in Virginia still enter kindergarten without the literacy, math, and social skills needed to succeed in school.

The Commonwealth can lead the way in providing equitable access to quality early childhood and STEM education opportunities for all children. In the months ahead, she will continue her work on behalf of Virginia’s children because investing in the state’s littlest learners is an investment in the future of the Commonwealth.

A World-Class Education
Expanding Early Childhood Education

Governor Northam believes providing quality early childhood education is a great investment in today’s children—and tomorrow’s workforce. The Governor wants all children to have an equal opportunity to enter school ready to succeed and is taking action to level the playing field and support Virginia families.

In early 2019, the Commonwealth received and implemented a $9.9 million competitive federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) to support statewide initiatives that strengthen the quality of and access to early childhood education. This grant funded several priority initiatives for the Northam Administration. The funding was used to develop a statewide needs assessment and strategic plan for strengthening early childhood education.

The grant also provided support for pilot communities across the Commonwealth to unify child care, Head Start, and pre-K at the local level while investing in financial incentive grants for early childhood educators. These pilot communities not only strengthened their own systems, but also built models to be scaled to other communities. The pilot program is informing policy making and practice at the state level.

Finally, the grant funding was used to build capacity and infrastructure that will better position Virginia to scale its early childhood initiatives statewide.
Virginia applied for a PDG B-5 renewal grant and was recently awarded an additional $33.5 million to continue the work for three more years. This funding will help the Commonwealth sustain and expand its efforts to improve access to quality early childhood education.

In June, Governor Northam signed an executive order creating an Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness. The team conducted four listening sessions with stakeholders across the Commonwealth and used this feedback to inform its recommendations for unifying and strengthening Virginia’s early childhood system. The team was charged with developing a plan to ensure all at-risk three-year-olds and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a publicly-subsidized care and education option by 2025.

The team recommended strengthening and expanding the Virginia Preschool Initiative and mixed-delivery grants, building a uniform quality measurement and improvement system, and consolidating state oversight and administration for early childhood care and education programs at the Virginia Department
of Education.

Finally, the grant funding was used to build capacity and infrastructure that will better position Virginia to scale its early childhood initiatives statewide.
Virginia applied for a PDG B-5 renewal grant and was recently awarded an additional $33.5 million to continue the work for three more years. This funding will help the Commonwealth sustain and expand its efforts to improve access to quality early childhood education.

In June, Governor Northam signed an executive order creating an Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness. The team conducted four listening sessions with stakeholders across the Commonwealth and used this feedback to inform its recommendations for unifying and strengthening Virginia’s early childhood system. The team was charged with developing a plan to ensure all at-risk three-year-olds and four-year-olds in Virginia have access to a publicly-subsidized care and education option by 2025.

The team recommended strengthening and expanding the Virginia Preschool Initiative and mixed-delivery grants, building a uniform quality measurement and improvement system, and consolidating state oversight and administration for early childhood care and education programs at the Virginia Department
of Education.

a look ahead...

Governor Northam’s budget request includes an historic $94.8 million in new funding to transform the early childhood education system and expand access to more at-risk three- and four-year-olds in Virginia. 

A World-Class Education
Attracting, Retaining, and Supporting Virginia’s Teachers

Education is one of the most effective ways of creating equal opportunity for all people. In 2019, Virginia continued to build upon its efforts to attract, retain, and support teachers across the Commonwealth by securing a pay raise for teachers, advancing policies around school counselors, and improving teacher preparation pathways.

Educators and administrators have indicated the importance of increasing teacher pay to improve teacher recruitment and retention efforts. Working with the General Assembly, Governor Northam secured the largest single-year salary increase for Virginia’s K-12 teachers in 15 years.

Improving the availability of support resources for students, such as school counselors, has been shown to impact school climate and, as a result, support efforts to recruit and retain teachers. In the 2019 General Assembly session, Governor Northam championed legislation to provide additional counselors in Virginia schools, and secured $12 million in funding to help implement improved staffing ratios of school counselors to students at all grade levels. Additionally, the General Assembly approved legislation requiring every school counselor to spend at least 80 percent of staff time directly counseling students. This shift allows school counselors to spend more time addressing the social and emotional needs of Virginia students and improves classroom and school environments.

Virginia also made critical progress in efforts to enhance teacher preparation and enable more individuals to participate in the Commonwealth’s educator workforce. In May, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approved 53 new teacher preparation programs and 25 new degrees at seven of the Commonwealth’s public institutions of higher education. These new programs and degrees will offer additional pathways into the teaching profession and help address teacher diversity and shortage efforts.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes $145 million to provide teachers and support staff a three percent pay raise, building on the progress achieved during the previous session.
In an effort to further improve school counselor ratios, Governor Northam proposed allocating an additional $99.3 million in his two-year budget. 

A World-Class Education
Giving Children the Chance to Succeed

Governor Northam is committed to providing students the educational experiences they need to build successful lives, and an opportunity to learn in ways that are relevant to their lives, their communities, and their future aspirations.

Over the last few years, Virginia has worked to transform public education and align its approach with the needs of a modern economy, but there is work to do to inform Virginians about these changes. In 2019, the Commonwealth launched Virginia is for Learners, a public campaign to connect students, educators, parents, and employers with information and resources about how Virginia is changing its approach to public education in ways that guarantee students thrive after graduation. The six key components highlighted by the Virginia is for Learners initiative include a focus on deeper learning, new high school graduation requirements and career pathways, modernizing the Virginia Standards of Learning, an emphasis on early childhood education, the new Standards of Accreditation, and efforts to maximize the potential of all students.

The focus on deeper learning ensures that students in every grade will receive instruction with a deep focus on skills for success in today’s modern world. The Virginia Department of Education refers to these key skills as the “5 C’s”—critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and citizenship skills.

Additionally, Virginia has revised its high school graduation requirements to incorporate the “Profile of a Virginia Graduate.” This will better enable Virginia graduates to gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and experiences to be prepared for life and careers after high school.

The Virginia is for Learners initiative also highlights the role of education in reducing poverty, addressing racism, and sustaining economic advancement for all Virginians. The Northam Administration and the Virginia Department of Education are committed to continuing to address the achievement gaps that currently exist and focusing on the changing needs of the diverse student population so that all students are best positioned to learn and succeed.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes more than $140 million to increase the “At-Risk Add-On,” which will better support at-risk students in grades K-12. This is the largest single increase proposed in Virginia’s history. The budget also seeks $125 million in new flexible funds for local division and $10.6 million for school breakfast and lunch programs, to help ensure all students are healthy and prepared to learn.

A World-Class Education
Staying Healthy and Safe at School

Smart investments can help create healthy and safe learning environments that allow students to grow and succeed.

Virginia enacted policies and best practices to support the wellbeing of its students at school, with initiatives designed to keep students both healthy and safe.

In March, Governor Northam signed legislation requiring all local school boards to ban the use and distribution of any tobacco or nicotine vapor product on a school bus, on school property, and at school-sponsored activities.

Before this law, smoking was only prohibited on school buses and in school buildings, and previous laws did not address other types of tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes. This legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support, is a major step towards addressing the recent rise in youth smoking and vaping and will help create healthier environments for Virginia students.

Virginia also made significant progress in addressing school safety recommendations of the Children’s Cabinet. Nineteen out of the 20 recommendations from the Student Safety Workgroup have been fully implemented or are well underway. This included new investments of $23 million in state and federal funds to provide more school counselors, school resource officers, school security equipment, trainings, threat assessments, and school surveys.

The Workgroup also developed legislation signed by the Governor, which directs the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish required minimum training standards for school resource officers (SROs) and mandates that at least one school administrator from every local school division participate in school safety training. Governor Northam also signed legislation requiring local school boards to enter into a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies for the purpose of outlining respective roles and responsibilities of the SROs. 

A World-Class Education
Preparing for Tomorrow’s Jobs

Governor Northam understands that Virginia’s tech sector will continue booming only if the Commonwealth can provide its workforce with the training these jobs require—that’s why he has prioritized making key investments in STEM education at all levels.

The Commonwealth has taken several steps over the past year to ensure Virginia students have the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. Governor Northam signed an executive order establishing the Virginia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Commission, chaired by First Lady Pamela Northam. A key component of the Commission’s work includes addressing educational inequities which often limit access to STEM-related advanced courses, credentials, and work-based learning opportunities for many of the Commonwealth’s most underrepresented students.

As part of the Commonwealth’s partnership with Amazon for its second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia agreed to work with its public colleges and universities to produce at least 25,000 new bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and related fields over the next 20 years. In November, Governor Northam announced that the Commonwealth had signed agreements with 11 universities, which will create 31,000 new degrees in these fields, exceeding the legislative goal. This initiative, called the Tech Talent Investment Program, will result in approximately $1 billion dollars of investment into Virginia’s higher education system over the next two decades. Additional agreements will be established with other institutions, including Virginia’s community colleges. Initial funding for this program was provided in the Governor’s budget approved earlier this year.

The Northam Administration also took steps to improve education pathways that will lead to high-demand jobs through the Virginia Community College System. As a result of the funding Governor Northam invested in the Virginia Community College System in 2018, community colleges completed a transformation of their workforce programs for high-demand skills, restructuring these programs so that students can begin taking skill-based courses at the start of each program.

The Northam Administration is also looking ahead to prepare Virginia for a rapidly changing world of work. In 2019, Governor Northam launched the Future of Work Taskforce to study and make recommendations to better serve the Commonwealth’s gig workforce, which refers to short-term engagements, temporary contracts, or freelance projects. The taskforce is developing practical, implementable policies and initiatives that support on-demand workers in addition to looking at automation and technology disruption.

A World-Class Education
An Accurate and Thorough Understanding of Virginia’s History

Every Virginia student should graduate with an accurate and thorough understanding of Virginia’s past—including the pivotal role that African Americans have played in building today’s Commonwealth.

In August, Governor Northam signed an executive order creating the Commission on African American History Education and tasked them with reviewing how history is taught in Virginia schools to ensure that standards of learning are inclusive of African American history and allow students to engage deeply, drawing connections between historic racial inequities and their continuous influence on today’s communities.

Commission members include K-12 educators and administrators, higher education faculty, scholars, African American history experts, museum leaders, parents, and other stakeholders from across the Commonwealth.

The Commission held its first two meetings in October and December of 2019 and will continue this important work throughout 2020 as it prepares to issue its report to the Governor.

The Commission’s recommendations will endorse technical edits, provide suggestions for enriched standards related to African American history, and propose broader considerations for the full history and social studies standards review process. The Commission will also report on necessary professional development and instructional support for teachers to ensure culturally competent instruction in all content areas.

Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of Virginia’s Beginning

After years of preparation, the Commonwealth commemorated the 400th anniversary of key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 and continue to influence America today. American Evolution commemorative activities included hundreds of events throughout 2019 that worked to share honest, authentic and inclusive stories of the untold, or under-told history that is Virginia. Notable events included the anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly, the anniversary of the first arrival of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort, the Women’s Achieve Summit, and the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival, which featured indigenous stories told by indigenous voices.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget makes several important investments to help Virginia students develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the African American voices that contribute to Virginia’s story.

  • $2.5 million to support K-12
    student attendance at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, as well as to support traveling exhibits from the center to K-12 schools
  • $2 million to provide students from across the Commonwealth the ability to visit the American Civil War Museum, to better tell the truth about the Civil War and Virginia’s role in it
  • $300,000 to digitize, expand, and increase access to Virginia’s historical highway marker program
  • Over $7 million to support historic African American sites, including Freedom House, Monticello, Montpelier, and Maymont
  • $1 million to support the Slavery Heritage site in Richmond
  • The proposed budget creates an African American Cemeteries Fund.
A World-Class Education
Opening Doors to Higher Education

Governor Northam believes that affordable higher education is critical to creating equitable opportunities for success. The Northam Administration has actively worked to increase financial aid for Virginians attending colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.

Virginia is focusing on students who have traditionally been left behind, as it works toward its goal of being the best-educated state by 2030. In 2019, the Commonwealth made significant investments in financial aid to address the affordability of higher education, especially for low- and middle-income students.

Governor Northam approved an increase of more than $15.5 million in need-based financial aid to Virginia’s public higher education institutions as well as an additional $3.5 million for the Tuition Assistance Grant Program, which provides support to Virginia residents attending Virginia’s private,
non-profit colleges and universities.

Equity in Higher Education

In addition to the investments achieved during the 2019 General Assembly session, the Commonwealth received a two-year, $500,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to help increase educational attainment for students of color by five percentage points over the next four years.

The grant will be administered by the State Council of Higher Education and will be used to support improvement in four areas: leadership culture and values, equity policy and initiatives, communications and outreach, and programming to improve educational attainment.

a look ahead…

In his proposed budget, Governor Northam included $895 million in capital funding for Virginia’s public colleges and universities.

The budget also allocates nearly $300 million in new funding for Virginia State University and Norfolk State University, the Commonwealth’s only public historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Governor Northam’s budget proposal includes $45.4 million to increase funding for need-based financial aid for Virginia undergraduate students at the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities.

The Governor also wants to increase the maximum annual undergraduate award for the Tuition Assistance Grant to $4,000 per student.

A World-Class Education
Investing in a Highly Trained, Skilled, and Educated Virginia Workforce

Strengthening Virginia’s workforce development system can help meet the needs of high-demand industries—and can help people secure training to get a good job or advance in their careers.

The growth of apprenticeships is enabling more Virginians to obtain the practical experience and high-demand skills to compete in today’s workforce. During the 2019 General Assembly session, Governor Northam backed legislation requiring the Virginia Community College System to provide the classroom training component of registered apprenticeships in multiple formats. Previously, some regions did not have the required instruction available for apprentices, and, in some cases, apprentices had to travel hours to a different region to receive this coursework. This new policy is helping more Virginians participate in registered apprenticeships.

In August, Governor Northam announced that the Commonwealth received a $1.6 million federal grant to expand the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s successful Registered Apprenticeship Program. In 2018, roughly 12,000 Virginians participated in the program, which partners with approximately 2,200 employers. This grant is being used to increase the number of apprentices in fields where they are currently offered, and to explore opportunities to provide registered apprenticeships in information technology, computer science, and healthcare.

Over the course of 2019, Governor Northam and members of his Administration engaged businesses, educators, and diverse stakeholders across the Commonwealth to learn about the challenges they face related to workforce development. Build Virginia—a workforce initiative targeting critical labor shortages in the construction trades, shipbuilding, and the advanced manufacturing industry—held eight regional meetings with more than 400 stakeholders. Additionally, Governor Northam and his Chief Workforce Development Advisor completed an eight-stop statewide listening tour to better understand unique workforce challenges faced by each region of Virginia. These conversations highlighted regional strengths and needs, and offered insights for how to address access challenges facing workforce training programs.

a look ahead…

In December, Governor Northam announced that his proposed two-year budget will include $145 million to launch his signature “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” Program (G3).

This initiative will improve access to training and education programs, while preparing more Virginians to get good jobs in high-need fields. G3 will provide financial assistance to eligible low- and middle-income students participating in skill pathways that lead to certain high-need jobs to cover the last-dollar cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks.

This program will also provide additional wraparound financial support to low-income students who qualify for full federal Pell grants.

Affordable and Accessible Health Care
Expanding Medicaid in Virginia

More than 375,800 newly eligible adults have gained access to comprehensive medical care since the Commonwealth expanded Medicaid in January 2019.

As a physician and a public official, Governor Northam believes all Virginians should have access to quality affordable health coverage. The Commonwealth continues to work with stakeholders and partner across state agencies to implement Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion is providing meaningful, affordable, and quality health care coverage for many Virginians who previously did not have access to coverage and were without medical care—nearly two-thirds of new enrollees reported going without medical care in the year prior to receiving coverage.

In 2019, 87 percent of newly eligible adults have used at least one medical service, 69 percent have filled a prescription, and 67 percent have gone to the doctor. New enrollees are also receiving medical treatment for chronic diseases, including 40,000 with high blood pressure, 24,000 with diabetes, 23,000 with substance use disorder and 5,000 with cancer.

Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), the Commonwealth’s Medicaid agency, launched a Spanish-language website, CubreVirginia.org, a one-stop-shop for Spanish-speaking Virginians seeking information about low- and no-cost health coverage.

Like the English-language CoverVA.org, CubreVirginia is a consumer-friendly source of information for Virginians interested in learning about who is eligible for Medicaid, what services are covered, and how they can apply for coverage.

The Administration has also worked collaboratively across state agencies to streamline and expedite enrollment for vulnerable populations. This year,
DMAS worked with the Virginia Department of Corrections to develop a data exchange program to streamline the enrollment of returning citizens. Thousands of people in correctional facilities preparing to return to the community have been enrolled in Medicaid. Additionally, Virginia worked to speed up the enrollment process for pregnant women, so they do not experience delays in access to medical care.

Affordable and Accessible Health Care
Increasing Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care

Through executive action and partnerships with state agencies and community organizations, the Commonwealth continues working to ensure every Virginian has access to meaningful, affordable, and quality health care coverage.

Medicaid expansion is providing access to health care for hundreds of thousands of additional Virginians, but meaningful health coverage remains unaffordable for too many. This is due in part to federal policies that have increased the cost and decreased the quality of available coverage.

In October, Governor Northam issued an executive directive requiring the Administration to assess what the state can do to control costs, and ensure that Virginians can afford to buy health insurance that covers their health care needs.

Addressing Racial Disparities in the Maternal Mortality Rate

Across the country, racial disparities in maternal mortality rates are alarming and unacceptable, and Governor Northam is committed to making a real difference for Virginia families. In June, he announced a goal to eliminate the racial disparity in Virginia’s maternal mortality rate by 2025, and challenged leaders in his Administration, as well as private and non-profit sectors, to develop strategies to achieve this critical goal.

The Administration held ten listening sessions and community forums around the Commonwealth to hear from individuals with lived experience and discuss strategies for improving maternal health. These sessions informed the development of a five-year strategic plan to achieve the Governor’s goal of improving maternal health.

a look ahead…

The Governor’s proposed two-year budget includes nearly $22 million to combat maternal and infant mortality and reduce the racial disparity in Virginia’s maternal mortality rate. The proposed funding will dramatically expand Medicaid coverage for new moms, increase home visiting, and explore Medicaid reimbursement for doula support services.

The Governor’s proposed budget seeks $4 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to increase access to affordable, reliable contraception through this program.

The Governor’s budget also requests funding to support the Virginia Department of Health in expanding its Office of Health Equity, providing adult sickle cell services and increasing staff in four high-need health districts for community health pilot programs.

Affordable and Accessible Health Care
Leading the Fight Against Addiction

The Northam Administration is working to fight the opioid epidemic and increase access to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders.

The Northam Administration has taken substantive steps forward to address the opioid and addiction epidemic in the Commonwealth, but this remains a public health emergency with devastating impacts for people and families across Virginia. This fall, Governor Northam signed an executive order to continue the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Opioids and Addiction.

In August, the Governor announced that the Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT), the first cross-agency cloud-based data sharing platform in Virginia designed to fight the opioid crisis, will expand to the Roanoke Valley and continue operating in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. FAACT analyzes and visualizes anonymous and secure data in a searchable, easy-to-understand way for agencies and community leaders. Virginia’s Chief Data Officer worked with state and local agencies and organizations to integrate data through the platform and help focus efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

In October, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) awarded $675,000 of federal State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to expand substance use recovery programs at eight universities. VCU’s collegiate recovery program, Rams in Recovery, will serve as a model for and provide guidance and oversight to the partner schools as they develop and broaden their on-campus recovery communities.

The Virginia Department of Corrections is working to fight the opioid crisis by implementing Medication Assisted Treatment pilot programs in three re-entry locations and its Community Corrections Alternative Program.

The program includes counseling and wrap-around services in partnership with DBHDS and the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), and targets three areas of the state with the highest rates of opioid overdose among state-responsible offenders.

DMAS was recently awarded a $5 million federal planning grant to increase access to evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. The funding provides targeted resources to address treatment needs for pregnant women and individuals recently released from the criminal justice system.

The Commonwealth will remain focused on a five-pronged approach to ending the opioid and addiction epidemic, which includes abuse prevention, harm reduction, oversupply prevention, treatment and recovery, and
justice interventions.

Affordable and Accessible Health Care
Expanding Access to Behavioral Health and Trauma-Informed Care

The Northam Administration is working to expand access to behavioral health services, implement trauma-informed practices, and improve systems of care in the Commonwealth.

Governor Northam wants Virginians to be able to access quality public behavioral health services, no matter their income or insurance status. The Administration and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) worked with all 40 Community Services Boards (CSBs) in the Commonwealth to make Same Day Access (SDA) available to Virginians seeking mental health services in their communities.

As of March, a person can walk into any CSB without an appointment, instead of waiting days or weeks for an assessment. SDA marks a dramatic shift from addressing mental health needs only when a crisis occurs, to using preventive care to avoid emergencies and hospital admissions. This virtually eliminates “no show” appointments, increases adherence to follow-up appointments, reduces the wait time for appointments, and makes better use of staff resources. The implementation of SDA means more Virginians can access mental health care services where they live with as few barriers as possible.

The Administration continues to build strong partnerships between hospitals and community-based services to help expand the availability of trauma-informed care. This summer, DBHDS awarded a statewide contract for alternative transportation services for people experiencing a mental health crisis who are under a temporary detention order (TDO). These services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and are currently being rolled out around the Commonwealth on a regional basis.

This trauma-informed approach fundamentally changes how people under a TDO are transported to inpatient psychiatric treatment. Rather than relying on transportation by law enforcement officers, alternative transportation efforts use unarmed drivers in plain clothes, secure unmarked vehicles, and no restraints. This helps erase stigma around mental health, and means that people having mental health crises do not feel as though they are being treated like criminals.

The Children’s Cabinet is also supporting trauma-informed care in Virginia. Its Work Group on Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma Informed Leadership Team (TILT) developed resiliency metrics that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches can use to assess Virginia’s progress in developing a trauma-informed workforce and system of care. TILT has collaborated with Virginia’s Chief Data Officer to make progress on developing a Statewide Resilience Scorecard using measures of social determinants of health.

a look ahead…

The Governor’s proposed budget makes critical investments in Virginia’s community services boards and the services they provide through the STEP-Virginia program. The Governor wants to invest $177 million in community-based services, which includes more than $64 million from the General Fund to continue implementing STEP-Virginia.

The funding will help community services boards provide more outpatient treatment, comprehensive crisis services, care for military service members and veterans, and peer support. 

A Secure and Just Commonwealth
Saving Lives: Improving Public Safety and Addressing Gun Violence

Governor Northam knows that gun violence is both a public safety and public health crisis.

Following the tragic shooting that killed 12 people and injured four others in Virginia Beach, the Governor acknowledged the pain that communities across the country experience every day due to gun violence. It kills more than 1,000 Virginians each year—three people every day.

Governor Northam called the General Assembly into special session to deal with gun violence. He asked for a thorough, meaningful discussion about the proposed legislation to keep firearms away from prohibited persons.

But there was no hearing. The session ended after 90 minutes without debating a single bill.

Governor Northam recognizes that there is more work to do to make communities across Virginia safer. That’s why he is doing more than offering thoughts and prayers—he’s focused on votes and laws that will improve public safety and save lives.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam has included nearly $6 million in funding in his proposed two-year budget to bolster support for community-based violence intervention programs and initiatives that work to reduce gun violence.

Governor Northam will also introduce common-sense gun violence prevention legislation in the 2020 General Assembly focused on keeping prohibited persons away from firearms.

A Safe and Just Commonwealth
Changing Lives: Rehabilitation and Second Chances

From sentencing practices to reentry back into the community, Governor Northam is committed to meaningful criminal justice reform in Virginia.

Governor Northam continues to use his executive authority to reduce existing inequalities in the criminal justice system. His Administration is working proactively to implement best practices that provide Virginians who have served their sentences an opportunity to reenter society as productive citizens. Nearly 13,000 citizens are released from the Virginia Department of Corrections each year. For the fourth year in a row, Virginia has the lowest recidivism rate in the country at 23.1 percent. This low recidivism rate is a testament to the successful and evidence-based educational programming, workforce training, and reentry programming available to people incarcerated in the Commonwealth.

Governor Northam has used his executive clemency powers to give second chances and ensure that returning citizens have an opportunity to be successful and make positive contributions in their communities. In addition, Governor Northam remains committed to making civil rights restoration accessible for Virginians and has restored rights to more than 24,700 individuals during his first two years in office.

To ensure transparency and accountability for survivors of sexual assault, Governor Northam signed legislation directing the Virginia Department of Forensic Science (DFS) to implement a new tracking system for Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs), allowing survivors of sexual assault, DFS, law enforcement, and hospitals to have access to information about the status of a PERK. DFS has continued reviewing DNA case files as part of the Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program. Since the review began in 2005, the project has led to the exoneration of thirteen individuals.

No More Minimums

In May, Governor Northam vetoed two bills which would have established new mandatory minimum sentences and pledged to veto any new mandatory minimums. Virginia law contains more than 200 mandatory minimum sentences—and these one-size-fits-all solutions disproportionately affect minority communities.

a look ahead…

Governor Northam’s proposed budget includes $6.6 million for alternative incarceration and reentry services by expanding pre-trial, local probation, and supporting pre-release and post-incarceration services. The Governor’s budget also seeks $5.6 million to hire additional district court clerks, and $2.7 million to hire additional public defenders, helping build a more accessible, efficient, and equitable criminal justice system.

A Safe and Just Commonwealth
Ensuring Virginia Remains the Best State for Service Members, Veterans, and Their Family Members

As an Army veteran, Governor Northam knows firsthand the challenges that service members may face on active duty, in their transition to civilian life, and beyond. The Governor is deeply committed to making sure that veterans, service members, and their families are cared for and that Virginia remains the most military-friendly state in the nation.

With over 714,000 veterans, 130,000 service members, and 25,000 guardsmen and reservists, the Commonwealth is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the country. Governor Northam continues to be focused on ensuring that veterans and their families can access the services and benefits they have earned.

In 2019, WalletHub named Virginia the best state for military retirees, due to the Commonwealth’s economic environment, quality of life, access to quality healthcare, and support for veterans, military retirees, and their families.

Additionally, six public and private Virginia schools were identified as being in the “Top Ten Most Military Friendly Schools” in their respective size and educational categories for their support of veteran students and transitioning service members. Virginia also ranked third among the states with the lowest percentage of homeless veterans.

In January, Governor Northam announced that Virginia was selected as one of seven states to participate in the inaugural Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF). Over the past year, Virginia’s interagency team has trained more than 500 community services providers in suicide prevention and military cultural competency, hosting six statewide Military Culture and Suicide Prevention Summits.

The team also hosted two regional planning sessions focused on closing access to behavioral healthcare gaps for SMVF. In December, the Commonwealth also launched a pilot program with more than 40 community organizations and state agencies aimed at identifying SMVF more accurately and reliably, training staff in military culture and suicide prevention best practices, and connecting individuals to military- and veteran-specific community resources such as the VA.

The Commonwealth’s Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program connects employers with veterans and helps committed companies with veteran recruitment, hiring, and retention. In 2019, the V3 program connected over 13,000 veterans with employers, reaching a significant milestone of enabling over 1,000 employers to hire more than 55,000 military veterans since the program’s inception in 2012.

This year, the Northam Administration partnered with the Virginia Department of Military Affairs and the Virginia Department of Veteran Services to conduct 12 town halls focused on engaging veterans, service members, their families, and members of the community. These events addressed topics including developing innovative ways to provide access to benefits and services and improving communication between federal, state, and local governments and community health organizations.

The Administration also worked with the United States Department of Defense and the General Assembly to open two new state veterans offices in Virginia Beach near Naval Air Station Oceana and at Fort Belvoir. The Commonwealth now has 34 state veterans offices that are operated by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and help veterans, transitioning service members, and their families identify and receive state and federal benefits.

The Virginia National Guard continues to perform critical support roles to assist with combat and military operations. Virginia National Guard soldiers and airmen provided mission command to over 700 soldiers as they conducted operations at 14 different locations in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq this year. Additionally, airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing deployed to Qatar for the first time to support F-22 “Raptors” from the 1st Fighter Wing. In September, the Commonwealth welcomed home the Virginia Army National Guard’s 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion as the unit returned from a nine-month overseas deployment.

Protecting Our Environment
Conserving Natural Resources

Virginia’s natural resources and public lands are extremely valuable to communities, ecosystems, and the Commonwealth as a whole. The Northam Administration is preserving land, restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and investing in clean energy.

At the beginning of his Administration, the Governor laid out a long-term goal of achieving protection of the lands with the highest conservation value in Virginia. In April, Governor Northam officially launched ConserveVirginia, a first in the nation, data-driven, land conservation strategy designed to ensure that state investments are targeted towards sites of greatest conservation value, not just the greatest number of acres. ConserveVirginia has identified 6.3 million acres of high-value conservation lands across the Commonwealth and is being used to guide and inform state land acquisitions, environmental mitigation projects, and the distribution of Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grants.

This year the Commonwealth surpassed more than 100 conservation easements for working farms and forests secured through the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund. Conservation easements help ensure protected lands stay intact as working farms and forests, and enhance the viability of Virginia agriculture and forestry by empowering localities to limit development on the farmland and forestland that each community has identified as a priority for conservation.

Cleaning up toxic coal ash has been a priority of this Administration. Governor Northam worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to reach an historic agreement to clean up large coal ash ponds in Chesapeake, Prince William, Chesterfield, and Fluvanna. The legislation, which the Governor signed in March, protects water quality by removing over 27 million cubic yards of coal ash from unlined ponds, and recycling it or moving it to lined landfills on site.

Protecting Virginia's Environment
Building a Clean Energy Economy

The Northam Administration is confronting climate change and boosting the clean energy economy in Virginia. These commitments send a clear signal that Virginia is open for business in the renewable energy sector.

The Commonwealth’s investments in clean energy are a key part of securing a strong economic path forward and creating the energy jobs of the future.

Since Governor Northam took office, his Administration has been focused on transforming Virginia’s electric grid and making it easier to develop clean energy resources. In September, Governor Northam signed an executive order laying out ambitious statewide targets for boosting clean energy deployment and increasing energy efficiency.

Additionally, in October the Governor announced the country’s largest contract buy renewable energy to power state government. This will ensure the Commonwealth meets the Governor’s goal of powering 30 percent of the state government by renewable energy resources by 2022.

The contract includes 345 megawatts of solar energy and 75 megawatts of wind energy from Virginia’s first-ever onshore wind farm in Botetourt County.
This historic agreement demonstrates how states can step up to combat climate change and advance a clean energy economy.

Virginia will also be home to the first offshore wind project in federal waters, consisting of two six-megawatt wind turbines. Construction began on the demonstration project this year and is set to be completed by the end of 2020.

This demonstration project is the first step toward reaching the Governor’s goals of developing a commercial-scale offshore wind resource off the coast of Virginia, which could power over 650,000 homes, and generating up to 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind
by 2026.

The Commonwealth is adopting solar technology at record rates—and building an economy that is cleaner and greener as a result. In 2019, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality issued 15 permits for solar projects in Virginia that will generate more than 825 megawatts of energy.
The agency has issued more than 25 permits since Governor Northam took office in January 2018. Virginia’s lead-by-example solar initiative is supporting five additional solar projects at state agencies.

Virginia’s transition toward a clean energy economy includes curbing pollution by expanding electric transportation. In 2019, Virginia allocated $20 million of the Commonwealth’s share of $93.6 million from the Volkswagen environmental settlement to replace old diesel school buses with new electric ones.

This announcement follows last year’s $14 million investment to develop a statewide public electric vehicle charging network and an additional $14 million to fund the deployment of all-electric transit buses in several Virginia localities.

Statewide Clean Energy Goals

  • 30% of Virginia’s electric system will be powered by renewable energy resources by 2030
  • At least 3,000 megawattsof solar and onshore wind are under development by 2022
  • 100% of Virginia’s electricity will be produced from carbon-free sources such as wind and solar by 2050
  • 2X the level of energy efficiency investments from the Commonwealth’s agencies and executive branch institutions

a look ahead…

The Governor will propose legislation making Virginia the newest member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Governor Northam’s proposed budget also establishes a $10 million clean energy loan fund, creates Virginia’s first Office of Offshore Wind, and provides up to $40 million to improve infrastructure at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, which will help Virginia secure new investments in the offshore wind supply chain.

Protecting Our Environment
Restoring the Chesapeake Bay

Governor Northam is keeping Virginia’s commitments to achieve a clean Chesapeake Bay by 2025—because a cleaner Bay is good for the Commonwealth’s economy and quality of life.

The Commonwealth continues to make measurable progress in reducing pollution, which has resulted in a healthier Bay with cleaner waters, more fish and oysters, and rebounding underwater grasses. Governor Northam is committed to providing sustained funding and stepping up efforts to maintain this progress and ensure future generations benefit from the Commonwealth’s vast waterways.

In August, Governor Northam released a bold, comprehensive plan for achieving Virginia’s commitments to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by 2025. Virginia’s targeted, science-based plan is known as the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan and serves as a roadmap to ensure the Commonwealth reaches its goals for addressing pollution and cleaning up the Bay. State agencies have begun work on many of the more than 50 strategic initiatives outlined in the plan. Virginia’s plan also calls for additional pollution reduction over time from wastewater facilities, maintaining tough regulatory requirements for large municipalities, and a first-ever collaboration with local planning district commissions to address polluted stormwater runoff.

The Commonwealth’s targeted approach includes a focus on providing farmers with improved financial and technical assistance and new tools and resources through the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program (VACS) and the Agricultural Best Management Practice Loan Program. Governor Northam provided an historic down payment on these clean water commitments with record investment in programs to clean up the Bay. For this fiscal year, the Administration has invested $73 million, more funding than ever before in the VACS program—$11 million more than the previous record amount and a $50 million increase over the previous fiscal year.

a look ahead…

Meeting Virginia’s pollution reduction targets requires investment in water quality to ensure the Commonwealth’s efforts are not set back by continued nutrient runoff. The Governor’s proposed budget supports the clean water blueprint he released earlier this year with major investments to help local governments tackle stormwater pollution, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, and assist farmers with implementing conservation practices to reduce farm runoff. When added to another $10 million for oyster reef restoration, these investments in water quality projects and programs total more than $400 million and will put Virginia on track to meet the 2025 Bay cleanup deadline. 

Protecting Our Environment
Improving Climate Resilience in Our Communities

Climate change is causing rising sea levels, increased flooding, and more extreme weather. Governor Northam has taken unprecedented action to fight climate change, build more resilient communities, and improve health, safety, and quality of life.

Flooding remains the most common and costliest natural disaster in Virginia and in the United States. This year, the Commonwealth took new steps to reduce the impacts of climate change, creating the strongest flood protections for state-owned property in the nation. In November, Governor Northam signed an executive order that set standards to keep state-owned buildings from being constructed in flood hazard zones under most circumstances. The executive order also creates a workgroup to establish state-level National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) complaint requirements for all development activities by state agencies on state-owned property.

Virginia is seizing the opportunity to lead on climate resilience, protecting taxpayer dollars, and engaging diverse stakeholders to help ensure the viability and economic vitality of the Commonwealth’s coastal communities now and into the future. These policies will bring Virginia into compliance with the NFIP, set an example for localities and private builders, and protect new state buildings from expensive flood damage. This initiative is also a critical component of Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Plan, which Governor Northam directed his Administration to begin developing last year.

2019 A Year in Review
2019 A Year in Review

2019 A Year in Review