Jones dives into 15th session

Published 11:24 pm Monday, January 9, 2012

Delegate Chris Jones prepared for his 15th legislative session in quite a unique way.

Most General Assembly members spend the last weekend before the session begins tying up loose ends at work and spending extra time with family.

Jones did those things, too, but he also did something a little different — he and his daughter went skydiving.

Email newsletter signup

“I’m not sure what’s more dangerous, jumping out of an airplane or going to Richmond to work on the budget,” Jones quipped on Monday.

He’ll get to find out soon. He heads to Richmond today for a committee meeting before the session officially begins on Wednesday.

“We’re already planning to hit the ground running,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a busy, busy session.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to lay out his budget plans this week, and the General Assembly will begin the process of “going through it area by area,” Jones said.

“He’s got a lot of initiatives in there, and he’s been working very hard on the promises that he’s made,” Jones said. “He’s got a lot for our consideration.”

Jones said he has not had the chance to go through the budget in its entirety, but he already knows some of the issues that are going to cause debate.

He mentioned the Virginia Retirement System reforms proposed by McDonnell, as well as changes in how much money is provided to school systems based on their ability to pay, as hot-button issues.

“That will certainly be an area of discussion and debate,” he said. “You will see [McDonnell’s] ideas included in his initiatives — more money towards education, more money towards economic development.”

Jones also said McDonnell would be looking to find waste in the state government to trim costs.

Deadlines for working on the budget will be publicized to hold the budget conferees accountable, he added.

The decennial redistricting has caused quite a number of changes in both houses of the General Assembly. Jones — and, indeed, every member of the General Assembly —represents slightly different turf than he did last year.

“Really, until we get there and you get into your committees and get a feel for how the Senate’s going to be organized, it’s just getting prepared and ready for the session,” Jones said. “It will be a very busy session.”

The session is set to adjourn on March 10. For more information, visit legis.