Fund for teacher pay raises in parity with the National Average.
Education reform emphasizes the essential skills of reading, writing, and math. Many students graduating from our Public Schools Systems lacks these vital skills and cannot attend a community college or university without additional remedial courses.
During the 1980s, VHS tapes called "Math Made Easy" simplified math at all levels of education.
Special Needs Students are put with the general student population, which hinders the best education possible for the special needs student and the rest of the class.
School Violence has been on an uptick over the past several years. Either School Boards or School Leadership has been reluctant or refused to do anything to resolve the problem.
In addition to dealing with school violence, many students would greatly benefit from an alternative style of education. For decades, Distributive Education (DE) allowed students to go to school half a day, work half a day, and earn credit for graduation, unlike Technical Education (formally known as Vocational Education) which keeps the student in school the entire day.
Implement a Workforce Education Program for High School Students where students go to school for a half day, participate in a job the rest of the day, and still gain credit for graduation.
The new Virginia Mental Health Commissioner found a vast deficiency in the State's Mental Health Services as per a Community Service Board Behavioral Health Services Commissioner report in December 2022. Local Community Service Boards (CSB) lack sufficient licensed mental health workers with an ever-increasing population with severe mental health issues.
CSB Mobile Crisis Teams that meet individuals on the street or in a shelter lack funding to continue their services. Additionally, the support of CSB Peer Recovery Services
Many of our community seniors face issues affecting their health and well-being. Significant issues affecting our seniors include Isolation, Mental Health, which includes dementia and Alzheimer's, Food Insecurity, Homelessness, and Affordable Housing for Seniors on a fixed income.
Regarding mental health in seniors and social isolation, 46.9% of households living alone in our region are over 65. I suggest getting agencies that serve older adults to get the word out to the isolated seniors about the services available. I would like to see community outreach taskforces develop and increase support for community health workers and programs focusing on seniors. Generally speaking, seniors in isolation is a community issue. In so many ways, community care is vital.
My recommendation for food insecurity is continued support for Area Agencies on Aging with a robust food infrastructure (home-delivered meals, meals at senior centers, nutrition programs, and more). We receive the bulk of our support from Older Americans Act dollars, which are federal. However, the Older Americans Act dollars and the funding formula used to distribute those dollars to the states set the stage for the state's "match." Localities are also encouraged to increase their match/contributions.
Older adults are the fastest-growing homeless population in South Hampton Roads. Data analysis of the last decade reveals a 52% increase in older adults between the ages of 55-61 years experiencing homelessness and an 81% increase in seniors over age 62. Data from the 2023 Point in Time counts throughout the region reveal that late-life homelessness continues to increase even as overall homelessness decreases. What is concerning is the scope of homeless elders across the Commonwealth and the nation, as persons aged 65 and older are the fastest-growing homeless population, and it is estimated by 2030, their numbers will triple. Furthermore, increases in older adult homelessness are driven chiefly by the rising share of seniors over 65.
There is a need to continuously study the pathways to late-life homelessness, especially as the pathway to first-time late-life homelessness is very complex with compounding factors. It isn't just a funding issue; homeless services are relatively well-funded in southeastern Virginia, and shelters aren't necessarily the solution. It's finding age-appropriate, accessible housing for seniors they can continue to afford once assistance ends and connecting them with the services and supports to sustain their housing.
In terms of homelessness, I will advocate for supporting our housing advocates' local and state efforts for rental assistance and auxiliary dwelling units by right that would expand housing options for seniors. We can challenge outdated, inflexible codes that prevent affordable housing development and challenge our ideas of what modern affordable housing looks like and the value it can bring to our neighborhoods.
The Department of Defense has made it its goal to reduce and eventually eliminate on-base housing and barracks accommodations in favor of their service members living in the local community. This creates additional pressure on the local community that is already suffering from insufficient affordable housing and workforce housing. I know how hard it is to find a house or apartment in an area where it is affordable and easy to commute to work safely.
When I get to the legislature, I will make sure that we target the programs that are failing our communities and begin a regimen of tax incentives and cuts for builders and buyers that allow for greater supply and reduce the cost the demand of housing. I am sick and tired of the little guy getting the short end of the stick, and I plan on finally standing up and making sure that the people get what they need and not the overreaching bureaucracy.
Affordable housing begins with new housing, and with that, an increase in overall building costs makes living untenable for many. Cutting red tape will be my middle name when I am done in Richmond. We will make sure it is cost-effective to live in the great city of Norfolk and make sure that anyone that wishes to move here and pay for the great services this city provides will have a place to eat, sleep, and raise a family that is safe and affordable enough to live.
Support the Governor's initiative of the Broad Blue Line to support communities with additional funding for law enforcement officers, their training, and additional equipment. This funding must be provided to communities that cannot make the investment funds the initiative requires.
Additionally, with an increased number of Fentanyl deaths in Virginia, legislation needs to increase the penalties related to the sale and production of Fentanyl to classify overdoses from the drug as "poisonings."
Furthermore, in dealing with catalytic converters thefts, make it a state jail felony to steal, buy or sell stolen catalytic converters.
When I saw so many small businesses close during the pandemic, I knew that it was time for a change, and under the current leadership. If I were to arrive in the legislature next year, I would change the way things go for Virginians every step of the way on their path to running a successful business. Lowering taxes, reducing energy costs that impact every aspect of transportation for your business, and finding alternatives to the current dangerously inefficient system of grants that Virginia currently has.
I know businesses have been hurting; inflation, regulation, and the lack of employees make the life of businesses more difficult than ever. Prices in the commonwealth are higher than ever, and the lack of tax reduction measures is ridiculous, and it is a shame that the current legislature hasn’t moved on it sooner; when I get there the first time, I see a piece of legislation it will be something to help the businesses.
Additionally, during the COVID Pandemic, the Virginia Employment Commission paid out to numerous individuals' unemployment who were neither eligible nor verified. This loss has depleted designated funds for benefits and, in turn, automatically triggered increased taxes for businesses.
United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Project is a plan for investing $14 billion to strengthen port and waterway supply chains and bolster climate resilience. The fund is for designing and constructing storm surge barriers, levees, and pump stations to reduce storm risk as part of a large-scale extension of the Downtown Norfolk Floodwall. The Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Project will protect the city from coastal flooding and damage from nor'easters, hurricanes, and other significant storm events.
Virginia, soon to adequately meet our energy needs, will require multiple energy sources. Many homes and vehicles in the coming decade will require significant electricity. We are decades away from a fully viable and operational Nuclear Fusion Plant. Since the 1950s, the United States Navy has operated hundreds of Nuclear Power Plants without a single disaster. Their record of operating Nuclear Power Plants is impeccable. Nuclear Power is a Carbon Zero power source to meet the future requirement for Zero Emissions. Most Navy Carriers use a 500 MW plant, and the Surry Power Plant operates at about 1300 MW. Virginia has numerous skilled Nuclear Power Plant operators, whether from the Navy or the Shipyards that support the Navy. Small Modulator Reactors (SMR) is a Future technology that is available today. It is clean, safe, and has a lifespan of at least 6o years.