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Rector Powell welcomes legislators to forum

PowellPeople from across Hampton Roads came to William and Mary Jan. 4 to share their thoughts on the state’s upcoming budget talks and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s proposed amendments to the 2006-2008 state budget with members of the Virginia General Assembly. The public hearing included members of the finance committees of both the House and Senate. It was one of several public hearings held across the state during the day to allow citizens of the Commonwealth to discuss budget priorities.

William and Mary Rector Michael K. Powell welcomed the panel of legislators to the College.

“We are often referred to as the alma mater of the nation. I think that’s more than a boastful bumper sticker. It’s a reflection of the fact that the most storied public servants in the history of our country have passed these halls as they set out the foundation for a great commonwealth and a great nation, and thus it is only fitting that this institution should play host to the current distinguished public servants who struggle in setting the course for the commonwealth, and we are honored to do so,” Powell said.

Powell lauded the state for funding that has helped the College in its construction efforts, including the governor’s recent budget proposal that will provide $5.4 million so that the School of Education can fund demolition and planning costs for their new facility at the site of the former Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital on Monticello Avenue.

“There are generations of students who have passed through this campus and have never seen a single building constructed during their tenure,” Powell added. “But, you look out now and you see the outline of the William and Mary of the twenty-first century appearing on the horizon and that is in great measure due to the shared vision of our legislators and their commitment to building and continuing to varnish this jewel of the Commonwealth and we are grateful for that. Nowhere is that more evident than our project on the School of Education, which we are about to start.”

Approximately 200 people attended the hearing here. Sens. Frederick Quayle (R-Suffolk) and John Chichester (R-Northumberland) and Dels. Phillip Hamilton (R-93rd), Harvey Morgan (R-98th), Robert Tata (R-85th), Riley Ingram (R-62nd), Algie Howell (D-90th) and Mamye BaCote (D-95th) made up the hearing panel. Four other public hearings were held at the same time throughout the state, and one more is scheduled for Jan. 15 in Richmond.

“We want to hear from you—what is right with the budget, what is wrong with (the governor’s) amendments, what is right with his amendments, what is wrong with the entire budget. We can use this public input—you may not think we do, but we really do because you are very important to us and you’re a huge aspect to our deliberations—so we want to hear from you and we want you to be brutally honest with us.” said Chichester, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

More than 50 people addressed the committee advocating causes that included Medicaid vouchers, public transportation, domestic abuse and mental health assistance.

Members of the Virginia General Assembly will review the governor’s proposed budget when they open the 2007 legislative session Jan. 10. In addition to provisions for the School of Education, the proposed budget continues to provide support for a 3-percent salary increase for both faculty and staff, which would be effective Nov. 25, 2007. The College also would receive an additional $215,000 for annual need-based aid for undergraduate Virginians. The proposed budget also includes $1.45 million for a new concrete pier at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The Virginia General Assembly will hold its opening session at Historic Jamestowne in honor of the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement there. Vice President Dick Cheney will address the assembly at a historic church on the site that day, and Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will give his State of the Commonwealth address from the site that evening.