This is it! Tomorrow, November 3, we can send a message, and keep moving Virginia forward. We can elect leaders that want to continue to pursue Governor McAuliffe’s pro-business, progressive agenda, and reject those that choose to use their power to bring the Washington style of gridlock politics to Richmond.

These elections matter, and that’s why you have received multiple messages from me. Healthcare, pre-k funding, common sense gun control, and so much more is on the line. If you have not already done so, please VOTE and make sure your friends and families go to the polls as well.

The polls open at 6 am, and close at 7 pm. You can find information about your polling place here. And do not forget that you need to bring an ID with you.

Thank you so much for your continued support. It is my privilege and honor to serve our community in the General Assembly.


Funding for Public Education

An issue that constantly plagues our Commonwealth is funding for public education. Last month the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission released a report showing that Virginia’s schools have fewer resources and higher needs than at any other time in recent history. Our classrooms are larger, the teacher retention is a challenge and the curriculum is out of date.

In 2014 localities fronted 56% of school spending, or $3.6 billion beyond their requirement. This is especially an issue in those areas that lack the resources to make up the shortfall. The reason for this lack in funding is because of the state’s watered down funding formula that was put in place at the beginning of the recession. All of this culminates with Virginia’s local governments paying more for public education than 39 other states.
Currently, school districts have to make choices between cutting funds for instruction, teacher support services and/or buildings. We are one of the wealthiest regions in this nation. Thankfully, this wealth has provided our students with a world class education that keeps us globally competitive. Make no mistake about it, when it comes to businesses coming to Virginia, an educated work force often seals the deal.

At the state level, we are spending significantly less on students today than in 2005, which is problematic because our students have more needs now than in prior years. Sadly, the poverty rate has increased by 45% and the number of students with limited English proficiency has increased by 69%. It is an unrealistic expectation our schools will remain competitive if we do not act prudently. Investing in our children’s education is essential when it comes to diversifying and growing Virginia’s economy. This is a message I have shared many times and will continue to fight for as we form the biennial budget in the 2016 session of the General Assembly.


In addition to electing our local officials, this Nov. 3 we have the opportunity to elect all 140 members of Virginia’s General Assembly. We have the choice between supporting candidates who believe in Governor McAuliffe’s vision of a prosperous and diversified Virginia economy, and those who only wish to stand in the way of progress. Whether it is bringing needed funding for our infrastructure or fighting to maintain Virginia’s pro-business climate, I have continuously fought to make our district the best possible.

Sadly there has been a downward trend with voter turnout for these off year elections. In 1991 voter turnout for legislative-only elections was 49%, however, 2011 voter turnout was down to 29%. We need you to vote. This year’s election determines not only the makeup of the General Assembly in Richmond, but also city council, board of supervisors, school boards and lots of other local positions that have an impact on our daily lives.
Absentee voting has already started and there is still time to register to vote if you have not done so yet. More information can be found on the various websites.

It is my pleasure to serve as your State Senator, and I look forward to the opportunity to once again represent Senate District 35 in Richmond.

As I am sure you have heard by now, Governor McAuliffe has declared Virginia in a state of emergency because of the inclement weather that our Commonwealth is currently experiencing. Beginning this evening and possibly running through early next week, the National Weather Service is predicting heavy rainfall, high winds, and flooding.

This extreme weather could combine with Hurricane Joaquin, which is presently developing north of the Bahamas. There is the potential for the two systems to create a superstorm similar to the one we experienced in 2012 with Superstorm Sandy. Although this is not expected to happen, the situation is being monitored closely by both the National Weather Service and the Fairfax County’s Office of Emergency Management.

You can follow the Fairfax County Emergency Management webpage for up to date information. Additionally, you can visit my webpage for other important websites and phone numbers in case of emergency.

As always, please stay safe and look after one another.

This November 3rd, we will elect the people that make up the Virginia legislature. There are many important issues facing the Commonwealth. Being an “off year election,” voter turn out is often low.  Please take the time to vote in this important election.  

Today is the start of absentee voting in our Commonwealth. Absentee voting is available in person or via mail between now and October 31st, or via mail.

With changes to the law, many people are eligible for in-person absentee voting. Reasons for voting absentee include, being out of town on November 3rd for vacation or work, having a spouse or dependent who is in the active service, working 11 hours or more outside of the county you vote in, and many other reasons.

The locations for in-person absentee voting can be found at the following websites:

Alexandria Voting Locations

Falls Church Voting Locations

Fairfax Voting Locations

Voting absentee by mail requires filling out an application and return it to your local country registrar, more information can be found here.

When you vote in person, remember to bring a proper photo ID. Learn more about ID requirements by visiting the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

It has been my privilege to represent you at the Capital. I ask for your vote again.  Thanks for your consideration.  

Recap of Richmond Special Session

This past month, as many of you are aware, there was a special session of the General Assembly. Regrettably, these meetings proved to be a waste of time and taxpayer money. We showed up on Monday and it was obvious that the Republicans were unprepared to do the job.

Not only were they unwilling to interview Justice Jane Marum Roush, a courtesy she more than deserved, they also did not bring any plans for how to deal with the court-mandated redistricting. It is because of this obstructive attitude, that we decided to adjourn the Senate, rather than waste our time and your money. This decision was not reached easily, but ultimately proved necessary.

Justice Roush will see out the rest of her 30 day term, and then most likely will be reappointed by Governor McAuliffe. This new appointment will be good until the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Regarding the redistricting, the Courts will now have the opportunity to draw new lines, creating less gerrymandered districts and a more accurate depiction of the Commonwealth.

Education & Improvements in SOL

With September underway it is time for another school year to start. This year Virginian students will attempt to continue their progress on the Standards of Learning examinations. Last year students statewide posted a five-point overall gain in mathematics and reading, and a two-point overall increase in writing, science and history.

Additionally, Governor McAuliffe announced a new partnership with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce. This is a part of the Governor’s plan to help boost Virginia’s Economy via the creation and attainment of workforce credentials. The Governor’s initiative calls for 50,000 STEM-H workforce credentials to be awarded by the end of his Administration, and 460,000 by 2030.

Investing in our children’s education is something I champion at every opportunity. A world class education system is good for them, good for business development and overall good for the Commonwealth’s economic health.

Virginia Economic Improvements

Last week Governor McAuliffe addressed the General Assembly, offering his year-end financial report. This year’s report highlighted massive improvements as compared to last year. Across the board we have made huge progress in our Commonwealth.

Virginia now has the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the Southeast, part of the reason is the 16 consecutive months of economic growth that have translated into 40,700 additional jobs created since July 2014. Additionally there are now more employed people than at any other time in the Commonwealth’s history. Not only have we created more jobs, the average weekly wage for private employees is 4.6 percent higher than it was at this time last year.

Since taking office last year, Governor McAuliffe has helped create a smarter and more targeted economy, one that has helped make Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads numbers one and five in the nation respectfully for government contracting. While we are not out of the woods with another round of sequestration looming, we remain vigilant in our stewardship of the Commonwealth finances. Stay tuned as we wait for the federal government to get its act together and take a more thoughtful approach to tightening its belt.

Fall Happenings

As we start school I encourage you to be more mindful of our students on the road and in school buses. Be alert and may safety come first. I look forward to visiting with you at the upcoming community events and civic association meetings.

I remind you to make sure your voter registration is up to date (with any change of addresses or new residents to the area). We are now two months away from the November 3 election for the State Senate, the House of Delegates and many local offices.

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SPRINGFIELD, VA — Today, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Action Fund announced that they have endorsed Senator Dick Saslaw in his campaign for re-election. Democratic Leader Saslaw has proven his consistent support for Planned Parenthood and their health programs that so many men and women rely upon. After examining his efforts in prior sessions, Planned Parenthood has named Senator Saslaw a women’s health champion. 

“Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Action Fund is proud to announce our endorsement for the re-election of Senator Saslaw of Virginia’s 35th Senate District,” said Laura Meyer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC Action Fund. “We are grateful to have a leader like Senator Saslaw on the front lines, fighting to ensure all Virginians have access to affordable, nonjudgmental, comprehensive health care services.”

This year, I sponsored legislation (SB1319) that was signed into law to combine the existing sales tax holidays. It will make it easier for Virginia families to take advantage of savings this summer. During the three-day sales tax holiday, consumers can purchase school supplies, clothing, footwear, hurricane and emergency preparedness items, as well as Energy Star and WaterSense products without paying sales tax.

The sales tax holiday will run from Friday, August 7th at 12:01 a.m. and end on Sunday, August 9th at 11:59 p.m.

I hope you will take advantage of these savings. See the list below of tax-exempt items. You can visit the Virginia Department of Taxation website for more information:


Senator Dick Saslaw


School Supplies, Clothing, and Footwear:

Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Items:  

  • Portable generators - $1,000 or less per item

  • Gas-powered chainsaws - $350 or less per item

  • Chainsaw accessories - $60 or less per item

  • Other specified hurricane preparedness items with a sales price of $60 or less per item

  • Detailed list of hurricane preparedness items

Energy Star and WaterSense Items:

Qualifying items carrying either the Energy Star or WaterSense label with a sales price of $2,500 or less purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

  • Qualifying Energy Star items include dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans,  light bulbs, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators

  • Qualifying WaterSense items include bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories such as aerators and shower heads, toilets, urinals, and landscape irrigation controllers

  • Detailed list of Energy Star and WaterSense items

The public is the driving interest on I-66 project

Interstate 66 outside the Beltway needs to be fixed. At rush hour, it can seem like a parking lot. It’s clear something has to be done.

The $2 billion to $3 billion project must put taxpayers first in determining what will be the best deal.

It has been long assumed the private sector is more effective than government when it comes to delivering large transportation projects. That may be true in some cases, but not necessarily in all. When hundreds of millions of tax dollars are at stake, we must make sure the taxpayers’ best interests are protected.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne recently hired a consulting team to work with the commonwealth for an “apples-to-apples” comparison of the numbers. That baseline analysis shows that the commonwealth could finance the project, saving up to $600 million and providing up to $500 million in excess revenue when compared with typical public-private partnerships and concession terms previously negotiated by the state on several large projects. That said, Transurban has done an excellent job of building and maintaining the high-occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 495 and Interstate 95.

If the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority finances the I-66 project, any excess revenue should stay in Northern Virginia. The transportation authority should insist on this in writing. Layne said that he supports keeping any excess revenue in our region and that the state will shoulder the revenue risk.

Further, the existing lanes on the I-66 project should remain free for public use. It is critical that the final design cause the least amount of disruption to the community.

The possibility of the state completing the project has stirred the pot. Several private-sector entities have responded to the challenge and are working to offer a better deal for the public. The state has released draft business terms for the private sector, including that a private company, if chosen, limit the public contribution to no more than $600 million. The private entity must pay for transit services as well as park-and-ride lots. The terms will not preclude Metro expansion.

The commonwealth’s new law, which I supported, reforms the public-private partnership process to make it more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. The public’s negotiating power has been significantly strengthened so that taxpayers get the best deal, whether it is publicly or privately financed, for a project that is desperately needed.

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