On August 18, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam addressed a Joint Meeting of the Senate Finance and Appropriations, House Appropriations, and House Finance Committees, where he highlighted Virginia’s record budget surplus and roaring economic outlook.
Thanks to fiscally responsible stewardship, Virginia ended the fiscal year 2021 with a historic $2.6 billion surplus—the largest in the Commonwealth’s history. All major general fund revenue resources exceeded their forecasts. The Commonwealth is on track to put nearly 15 percent of the general fund budget in reserves by the end of the Governor’s administration, nearly double the 8 percent goal he set at the start of his term.
In addition, Virginia’s economic recovery continues to outpace the nation. Virginia’s unemployment rate is 4.3, significantly below the national average and lower than all neighboring states. Virginia was again named America’s “Top State for Business” in 2021 by CNBC, becoming the first state to win back-to-back titles. Since Governor Northam took office in January 2018, the Commonwealth has created a record-breaking 90,000 new jobs and secured more than $45.4 billion in statewide capital investment.
The Governor’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Good morning, Chairwoman Howell, Chairman Torian, Chairwoman Watts, Speaker Filler-Corn, Leader Saslaw, members of the General Assembly, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the privilege of speaking with you this morning.
I would like to thank Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, First Lady Pam Northam, our Cabinet and staff, and all of our state employees for the work they do.
I think we all can especially appreciate that we are here together in person this morning.
Last year’s August revenue speech was held virtually, and so was the December budget address, and the January State of the Commonwealth.
It’s good to be together again.
We are here in person today because of one thing: vaccines.
The vaccines that scientists developed to fight covid-19 are incredibly effective, and for the bulk of this summer, Virginia—like other states—has seen dropping case counts, hospitalizations, and death tolls. It has been a relief to all of us.
We now have 74 percent of adult Virginians with at least one shot – one of the best performances in the country. And 66 percent of Virginia adults are fully vaccinated.
That’s good. But we need to keep working. Because covid is changing. The new Delta variant is much more contagious than previous versions—and it’s more dangerous for people who are not vaccinated. It’s causing our cases to go up again, and that’s not what we want to see.
But remember, cases are increasing mostly among unvaccinated people. Hospitalizations and deaths are almost all among unvaccinated people—nearly every single one.
That makes the solution more clear than ever: get vaccinated.
I hope all of you here today and watching are vaccinated, but if you’re not, please go out and get your shot today. And for you legislators, please urge your constituents to get the vaccine. It will save lives.
We’re going to talk a lot about good news today. But I want to start by recognizing that this has been a very difficult year and a half for everyone. It’s been especially challenging for people who have lost jobs or businesses to this pandemic—or, tragically, people they love.
And while we have a lot of positive news about our economy these days, we know that a lot of people are still struggling, and still hurting.
That’s why we have focused so much effort on investing in people. I want to thank all of you in the legislature for working with us, especially in the special session that just ended. Together, we’ve put money into programs and infrastructure that will help our neighbors and fellow Virginians, and that is what we’ll keep doing as we craft the next budget this fall.
Now, I am here today to update you on the Commonwealth’s revenues for the fiscal year that ended on June 30.
And it’s good news. Really good news.
We ended fiscal year 2021 with the largest surplus in the Commonwealth’s history—an historic $2.6 billion. Secretary of Finance Joe Flores will explain the details to you in a few minutes. Secretary Flores has been doing a tremendous job and I appreciate how you have all worked with him.
All of our major general fund revenue sources exceeded their forecasts.
Our payroll withholding and our sales taxes together account for 71 percent of revenues, and they’re the best indicator about current economic activity. Together, these two categories grew 6.4 percent this past fiscal year.
Revenue from personal income taxes—up 4.7 percent.
Revenue from sales taxes—up 12.4 percent.
Revenue from the recordation fees you pay when you buy a house – up almost 41 percent, a reflection of our strong housing market.
And revenue from ABC profits—up a remarkable 29.4 percent.
These tremendous results are among the best Virginia has ever delivered—and it’s thanks to the hard work of millions of workers across Virginia; entrepreneurs and employers in the private sector, and everyone in this room.
We need to be clear about how this has happened.
2020 was a profoundly difficult year. But Virginia is open for business – and business is good.
Thanks to the vaccine, we’ve been able to move beyond mitigation measures that were painful, even as they protected public health.
Thanks to recovery dollars from Washington, businesses have been able to keep going, and they’re hiring again. People have money in their pockets again, and the child tax credit is helping to lift families out of poverty.
Thanks to our strong national economy, the stock market is up. That’s good for families. It’s been profoundly good for the Virginia Retirement System that funds the retirement for police officers, teachers, and public workers all over Virginia.
Thanks to all of you, Virginians have made it through the past 18 months with tools to keep them safe—rent and mortgage relief, protection from eviction, and help paying for utility bills and child care.
And most of all, thanks to science, medicine, and good old-fashioned American ingenuity, we all now have access to vaccines that are safe and effective—and that’s helping drive this remarkable economic turnaround.
We accomplished all this during a pandemic that many expected to break our budget—and did exactly that to many other states.
Virginia has been different. Virginia has been a leader among the states—in policymaking, in our COVID response, and in the performance of our roaring economy.
We have been able to help Virginians who most need support through this pandemic while building our economy to be even stronger.
Now, before we turn to where we’re going, let’s take a moment to revisit how we got here—because the past 18 months have been unlike any other.
In early 2020, together we approved one of the most progressive budgets Virginia has ever seen. It included investments in important priorities, such as broadband access, early childhood education, clean air and water, and much, much more.
Then the pandemic hit. Not knowing what was to come, we froze that new spending and state hiring until we had a better picture of the pandemic’s impacts on our economy.
That was the wise, prudent, and fiscally responsible route to take.
We didn’t take the drastic measures some states were forced to take. Other states laid-off workers, cut services, and even borrowed money to pay the bills—actions that will weaken their financial pictures for years to come. We can all be proud that Virginia did not reduce services or lay anyone off.
This time last year, we were rewriting the budget to account for an anticipated drop in revenues.
But things improved last fall. And by the end of 2020, we were able to restore many of the investments we had hoped to make.
We launched free community college through the G3 program for people who need the support to get high-demand skills—so they can get the jobs they want for the lives they want to build for themselves.
We restored investments in broadband, early childhood education, higher ed, and financial aid. This means more children will get the best start possible, while people in every community will be able to get the Internet access they need to work and learn.
We gave educators a much-deserved pay raise, invested more in school counselors, and held K-12 schools harmless for enrollment drops during the pandemic.
We know our schools and educators had a very difficult year—and students most of all—but we’re grateful for how they handled the challenges of the pandemic.
We updated Virginia’s voting systems, revised an outdated formula for funding local health departments, and set aside money for the vaccination effort we knew was coming. Now more than half the state is fully vaccinated, and our local health departments are getting the support they need.
We invested in new rail infrastructure, and put money into the organizations working to better tell the full and accurate history of Virginia. That means a more comprehensive and inclusive story about where we’ve been, and where we’re going.
And we set aside money in our reserves. I had set a goal to have more than 8 percent of our budget in reserves during my term—more than any other governor and General Assembly have ever delivered.
Well, we’re on track to have almost 15 percent in our reserves by the time my term ends.
In fact, our revenues may be strong enough to trigger a “super deposit,” and Secretary Flores will explain that in more detail shortly.
But we can all be proud that we have been able to act prudently and set aside money in our reserves.
This action will protect Virginia when the next economic downturn comes—and we know one will come eventually.
Our budget provides targeted support to help the people who need it the most and lays the foundation for the economic recovery we have well underway.
We also used the federal funding we’ve received to support our local communities, our small businesses, and to save Virginians and landlords from the chaos of evictions.
Virginia was one of the first states to create a rent relief program, in June 2020. We directed $50 million in CARES Act dollars to it to start with, and this past February, we put another $524 million in federal funds into the program.
Virginia’s program stands out because we require tenants and landlords to work together to apply for funding. We understand that the pandemic has put people out of work, and through no fault of their own, they couldn’t pay the rent.
But we also understand that landlords had bills to pay too. That’s why we’ve had them work together.
Just last month, the United States Treasury Department published rent relief data that recognized Virginia as a top performer—and just last week, the White House praised Virginia’s work as being number two in the country for dollars out the door.
Also last week, we finalized legislation to spend $4.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan funding.
I remain grateful to you for working with our administration to prioritize that funding so Virginia can be in a better position for the future.
We made a down payment on investments in behavioral health care, including strengthening our community-based services, and the valued staff who provide that care.
We’re giving schools the funding they need to improve their ventilation systems—a new priority in this pandemic era, but an issue that is likely to continue.
Together, we invested a record $700 million into bringing universal broadband access to every corner of the Commonwealth—that will be done in just a couple of years, far earlier than expected. This is a dramatic step forward for Virginia.
Previous legislatures have talked about broadband, but when we took office, we were spending only about $4 million a year on the effort. Coming from rural Virginia, I knew it needed to be a higher priority. We set the ambitious policy goal of getting every Virginian connected within ten years. And together, we kicked that number up to $50 million a year.
But we still have some Virginians without access, so I turned to my team and asked what it would take to hit the goal of universal access more quickly. They came back to me with a plan and said it will take about $700 million to get the job done. So together with you all, we have now committed to one of the most aggressive investments in broadband of any state in the country and we’ll do it in half the time we originally thought. We don’t want to leave any community behind.
We protected businesses from tax increases by making an historic investment of more than $800 million to refill our unemployment fund back to the right level. We had a clear policy goal—deposit enough money into that fund to ensure that our businesses, many of which have struggled in this pandemic, wouldn’t be hit with higher taxes to replenish the fund. Our economy continues to flourish, so between that and this investment, we are rebuilding that fund for the future.
While the Virginia Employment Commission is sixth in the nation for getting benefits to eligible people quickly, there have been times in the pandemic when VEC’s pace of resolving those difficult claims just hasn’t been acceptable.
We directed the VEC to dramatically expand their ability to process complicated claims, by adding 300 new adjudication specialists and make technology upgrades. As a result, VEC has now resolved 98 percent of complex claims. We know we have more to do. The ARPA investment will boost our chronically under-funded unemployment system, by improving its technology, increasing call center capacity, and ensuring highly qualified staff to help people, allowing VEC to continue to improve.
We also invested even more in our small businesses through the Rebuild Virginia Program. We launched Rebuild Virginia a year ago to give grants to small businesses and non-profits that were affected by the pandemic.
The response has been overwhelming—that fund has spent all its money three times and still has a number of applications in the pipeline.
So we used federal ARPA money to provide another $250 million. That will fund the needs for many more small businesses. All told, we’ll have put almost $400 million into that fund to help our small businesses all across Virginia.
We can all be proud of using federal support for these targeted investments to help Virginians. Some would have had us spend every ARPA dollar we received. But given the unpredictability of this pandemic—the rapid spread of the Delta variant is an example—it is most prudent to set some aside.
I want to thank Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Luke Torian for their strong commitment to this fiscally responsible decision. As we look to how to use the ARPA dollars we have set aside, rest assured, the 2022 General Assembly will have the final say.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about our economic recovery.
Last fall, there was considerable uncertainty about where we were headed on the pandemic and its impact on our economic outlook.
A vaccine was still months away, there was uncertainty about any future federal stimulus relief, and we were in the waning days of a tumultuous election season.
As I said, this time last year, we met with economic advisors, and we all expected the pandemic would reduce revenues.
But by December, those same economists were seeing that Virginia was on an upswing. We expected $1.2 billion in additional revenue. That was great news.
What’s even better news, however, is that we more than doubled that.
The top line is this: we forecast our total revenue collections to grow 2.7 percent. We based this on the conservative recommendations of experienced economists, and Virginia business leaders. This was the right and prudent course.
Instead, revenues soared 14 percent—and we can all celebrate that.
That tells us all that what we’ve been doing is working—making targeted investments for the future while helping people get through the pandemic.
Revenues are exceeding official forecasts, even during a pandemic.
Our finances are solid, and we have taken action to keep our triple-A bond rating secure. We are one of only 13 states that hold this rating, and it’s because we laid out a long-term financial plan, and we have stuck to it, in good times and bad. We must continue this work.
There is no doubt this past year and a half have been difficult in a variety of ways. That includes the worries we have all shared about our state’s revenues, and how the people and businesses behind those numbers were faring during the pandemic.
That is one reason why it was so heartening to have something good—really good—to celebrate last month.
Once again, Virginia was named the best state in which to do business by CNBC—the only state to get that rating back to back.
This is something we should all be proud of because it speaks to the work we have done together to make Virginia a better place, both for businesses and for workers.
I could not be prouder of what this says about the inclusive, commonsense policies that we have put in place, and how they encourage business investment.
It is a testament to Virginia’s workers, our education system, our commitment to diversity, and our strong business climate.
When we treat people right, it’s not just the right thing to do, it is good for business. And we know that if we stick with this philosophy, Virginia will grow even stronger.
Since I took office in 2018, we have secured $47.5 billion in statewide capital investment and created more than 90,000 new jobs.
We’ve done that while advancing policies that treat people equally and with dignity, recognize and celebrate diversity, tell our full and true history, and promote democracy.
And as a result of all this, our economy is roaring. We see that in these revenue numbers.
We know that we are taking the right steps to keep this momentum going.
At the same time, we don’t know what the future holds. If you’d asked me about the pandemic in June, I would have said we could have a fall that looked almost normal. But now we know that won’t be the case, thanks to the Delta variant.
So as we head into the fall, we will continue to be cautious and prudent in our budgeting. We want to be ready for any more surprises COVID may throw our way.
My administration will be working with you to craft a new two-year budget to leave in your hands. It will be one that continues prioritizing investments for the long-term and supporting people as they recover from the pandemic.
We have already committed to making strong investments in overcoming salary compression for our state police and many other public safety officials. And we’ve committed to continuing investments in our behavioral health system and in the staff who are on the ground, taking care of people.
Our goal as we build this budget together is to leave you all with the kind of roadmap that can continue the strong economic success that we are seeing. We will keep making the investments that Virginia needs. We will keep putting resources into supporting Virginians who need it. We have built a strong Virginia that works for more Virginians than ever before.
We can all be proud of Virginia’s position today. We have a strong economy, thanks to cooperative leadership, and we are well-positioned to continue seeing robust revenues and hiring going forward if we keep steering the ship along the same course.
We have laid out a path for economic prosperity, and it’s working.
Virginia is the best state in the best nation in the world. I am grateful to all of you for the work we have done together to benefit Virginians. And I am grateful to every Virginian who has played a part in making our Commonwealth the best place to live and work.
Mail-in ballot requests due Friday, October 22
Voters wishing to cast a mail-in ballot in the November 2, 2021 elections have until 5 p.m. on Friday, October 22 to request a ballot be sent to them.
Voters may apply for a mail-in ballot online at the Department of Elections’ Citizen Portal at vote.elections.virginia.gov or by downloading a paper application at elections.virginia.gov/registration/voter-forms, filling it out, and submitting it to their local Voter Registration Office. Forms are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. Application forms may be submitted to the voter’s local Voter Registration Office by mail, fax, or email.
Contact information for your local voter registration office can be found at elections.virginia.gov/VRO. Voters may choose to receive a mail-in ballot for this November General Election only or receive mail-in ballots automatically for every election in which they are eligible, until they request to be taken off the permanent absentee list.
If the voter is print disabled, they may request to receive an absentee ballot electronically to mark their ballot using an electronic ballot-marking tool. If this option is chosen for voting absentee, the ballot will be delivered by email and can be marked using screen reader assistive technology. More information about this option is available by contacting the local voter registration office or at elections.virginia.gov/accessible.
All are encouraged to mail their ballot requests well in advance of the October 22 deadline to ensure it is received in time. Applications received by the local Voter Registration Office after 5 p.m. on October 22 cannot be accepted.
ELECT encourages voters to return their absentee ballot at their earliest convenience. A voter may return their absentee ballot by:
- Mailing the ballot via USPS or a commercial delivery service (such as FedEx or UPS.) All absentee ballots include pre-paid postage through the USPS (ballot must be postmarked by Election Day);
- Placing the ballot in a drop-off location listed on their county or city’s official website;
- Delivering the ballot to the Office of the General Registrar in the voter’s county or city; or,
- Dropping the ballot off at any polling place within their county or city on Election Day.
More information can be found about absentee and early voting for the November 2 elections online at elections.virginia.gov/absentee.
Governor Northam announces September revenue increased more than 18 percent
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced on October 13, 2021, that September General Fund revenue increased 18.4 percent from the previous year, continuing Virginia’s economic momentum.
“Our economy continues to show signs of a strong recovery,” said Governor Northam. “Our strategic and proactive decisions are paying off. In this strong economy, Virginia will continue making critical investments in our communities, our public schools, and statewide infrastructure to bolster our growing economy. Our fiscal responsibility is paying off for Virginians.”
Collections of payroll withholding taxes grew 9.9 percent in September. Collections in non-withholding grew 25.2 percent since September of last year. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting August sales, grew 20.6 percent in September. Collections of corporate income tax increased by 41.3 percent in September. Collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts—mainly recordation tax collections—were $60.1 million, compared with $56.6 million in September of last year. The first estimated payment of non-withholding and corporate income tax collections for the fiscal year was due in September.
“September completes the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022 and is a significant month for revenue collections,” said Secretary of Finance Joe Flores. “Overall, this quarter’s revenue performance was strong. It is important to remember that we are comparing this quarter’s performance to the heart of the pandemic closures last year when there was still not even a vaccine on the horizon.”
On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes—62 percent of General Fund revenues—grew by 9.7 percent, well above the annual estimate of 1.7 percent increase. Sales tax collections—17 percent of General Fund revenues—increased 16.7 percent through September, far outpacing the annual forecast of a 4.2 percent decline. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 10.6 percent, well ahead of the annual forecast of an 8.0 percent decrease. Through the first quarter of the fiscal year, corporate income tax collections rose 36.5 percent, exceeding expectations of an annual 16.1 percent decrease. The collections of wills, suits, deeds, and contracts were up 9.0 percent in the first quarter, outperforming the forecasted 31.3 percent decline.
Social Security announces 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000 from $142,800.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2022, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2022 are announced. Final 2022 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
September marks second consecutive month of cargo volume in excess of 300,000 TEUs
Strong import loads at The Port of Virginia® in September have helped the port achieve consecutive months of cargo volume in excess of 300,000 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units).
In September the port processed more than 306,000 TEUs, which is an increase of nearly 50,000 TEUs (+19%) when compared with last September; loaded import volume was more than 152,000 TEUs, or 31,000 units (+26%). In August, the port handled more than 307,000 TEUs. Last September is when the port began seeing a considerable rebound in its volumes from the COVID period.
To see the port’s operational metrics on productivity at the berth, rail ramp and truck gates, click here.
“The growth we’re seeing is not artificial and the movement of loaded and empty containers is up, for both exports and imports,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “Last September is when volumes began coming back and since then we have posted growth each month. The operation is fluid and the Virginia Model of being an operating port, where we own, lease and operate all of the assets, allows us to be agile in meeting the needs of our customers and cargo owners.”
In the last two months, three vessel services, Maersk’s TP20, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM’s Indamex 2 and MSC’s Indus 2 began making Virginia their first-in US East Coast port call. This and the port’s commitment to efficiency is helping to drive growth, Edwards said.
“There is no congestion here and ocean carriers and cargo owners are taking notice of our track record and what we are doing to ensure consistency in our operation,” he said. “We are maintaining our efficiency and service levels because we are monitoring the operation so closely and continuing to add modern assets. The result is that they are choosing Virginia because they see value here.”
With three months left in the calendar year, the port’s TEU volume is 2.58 million TEUs, an increase of 589,136 units (+30%) when compared with the same period last year. Edwards is not anticipating a slowdown in volume before year’s end.
“We may see a dip as the retail season comes to its end, but this is normal and any fall-off in volumes will be small,” Edwards said. “Looking into 2022 we see nothing that leads us to believe that there is going to be a drop in volumes. It is going to take some time before the supply chain returns to normal.”
September Cargo Snapshot (2021 vs. 2020)
- Total TEUs – 306,219 up 19.4%
- Loaded Export TEUs – 80,697 up 6.8%
- Loaded Import TEUs – 152,197, up 25.7%
- Total Containers – 170,998, up 21.6%
- Virginia Inland Port Containers – 2,297, down 31%
- Breakbulk Tonnage – 4,332, up 1.8%
- Total Rail Containers – 53,405 up 16.4%
- Total Truck Containers – 110,452 up 25.2%
- Total Barge Containers – 7,141 up 9.4%
Virginia War Memorial now accepting applications for 2022 Marocchi Memorial Scholarships
The Virginia War Memorial has announced that applications for its 2022 Marocchi Memorial College Scholarships are now being accepted.
One scholarship of $2,500 is available to any student enrolled in the senior class of an accredited public or private school or homeschool program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. New this year, an additional $2,500 scholarship is available for a student currently enrolled in a Virginia public or private college or university and is participating in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Senior high school age applicants must also plan to enroll and participate in an ROTC program at a Virginia public or private college or university that will lead to a career in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. All applicants must possess an unweighted minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.75 and must be U.S. citizens or hold permanent residence status at time of application. Students do not have to participate in an ROTC program at the high school level to apply.
“This year, we are pleased to announce that for the first time, our Marocchi Memorial Scholarships will be available to both a graduating high school student and to a student currently enrolled in a state college or university,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Virginia War Memorial Director. “These scholarships were established and intended to reward Virginia students who participate in ROTC at the college level and wish to pursue a career in military service.”
The Marocchi Memorial Scholarships were established and are funded by friends and family of the late Rear Admiral John Marocchi of Rappahannock County, Va. and are administered by the Virginia War Memorial Foundation.
Admiral Marocchi served in the United States Navy for decades in a career that spanned World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Legion of Merit, the Admiral was one of the few Navy officers to complete Army Airborne training. He also served as a trustee of the Virginia War Memorial for more than fifteen years.
All applications for the 2022 Marocchi Memorial Scholarships must be received by Sunday, April 24, 2022. Complete details, including application forms and a list of required documents, are available online or by contacting Virginia War Memorial Assistant Director of Education Morgan Guyer at email@example.com or 804.786.2060.
About the Virginia War Memorial
The mission of the Virginia War Memorial is to Honor Veterans, Preserve History, Educate Youth and Inspire Patriotism in All. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial includes the names of the nearly 12,000 Virginia heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism. The Virginia War Memorial is and will always be the Commonwealth’s tribute to those who served and most especially, to those who died defending our freedoms. Every day is truly Memorial Day at the Virginia War Memorial. The Virginia War Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and serves as an integral part of its mission in support of all Virginians who have served in our military. It is located at 621 South Belvidere Street, Richmond, Virginia 23220. For more information, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. VDVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, VDVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
About The Virginia War Memorial Foundation
Established in 2000, the Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) is the private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that finances all of the educational outreach, patriotic events, and historical programs, exhibits, and documentary films of the Virginia War Memorial. The Foundation depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, military and veterans organizations, civic groups, and grants for its funding. For more information or to make a gift, please visit www.vawarmemorial.org.
Attorney General Herring defends Indian Child Welfare Act protections before U.S. Supreme Court
RICHMOND (October 8, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed an amicus brief supporting the United States and four federally recognized tribes in their efforts to uphold critical protections guaranteed under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Attorney General Herring and a bipartisan coalition of 26 attorneys general filed the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Haaland v. Brackeen and Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen. The brief highlights the states’ compelling interest in standing up for the wellbeing of all children, including Native American children, in-state child-custody proceedings.
“Since its passage more than 40 years ago, the Indian Child Welfare Act has been a critical tool for protecting Native American tribes and keeping Native American families together, and it has also helped to foster tribal-state collaboration,” said Attorney General Herring. “Every single child deserves to be protected, especially during child-custody proceedings, and it’s crucial that protections like the ICWA remain in place to do just that. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act and maintaining these crucial protections for Native American children and their families.”
Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 in response to a serious and pervasive problem: State and private parties were initiating state child-custody proceedings that removed Native American children from the custody of their parents — often without good cause — and placed them in the custody of non-tribal adoptive and foster homes. That practice harmed children and posed an existential threat to the continuity and vitality of tribal communities. To address this, Congress established minimum federal standards governing the removal of Native American children from their families. ICWA’s provisions safeguard the rights of Native American children, parents, and tribes in state child-custody proceedings, and seek to promote the placement of Native American children with members of their extended families or with other tribal homes. In the four decades since Congress enacted ICWA, the statute has become the foundation of state-tribal relations in the realm of child custody and family services. Collectively, the coalition states are home to approximately 86% of federally recognized tribes in the United States.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts that:
• ICWA is a critical tool for protecting Native American families and tribes, and fostering state-tribal collaboration;
• The court of appeals incorrectly concluded that several of ICWA’s provisions violate the anti-commandeering doctrine; and
• ICWA’s preferences for the placement of Native American children with other Native American families and foster homes do not violate equal protection.
Joining Attorney General Herring in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.