Good morning, My name is Chris Peace and it's my honor to represent the people of the 97th District of the House of Delegates which includes the counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, King William, King and Queen, Henrico, Hanover and New Kent. In this time of economic challenge elected leaders must come together to put Virginia First in bipartisan ways, working together for solutions and in this case to Help Housing Now. In that spirit I am so encouraged to have with me today at the lectern Senator Donald McEachin, our other fellow legislators, and representatives of the housing industry-both for profits and non-profits.
More than six months ago, after Congress passed the Economic Recovery Act of 2008, I approached the Richmond Association of REALTORS and asked them "What should Virginia do to help the housing industry and address consumer confidence."
Knowing that Virginia must have a balanced budget and cannot print money, I knew the our stimulus options were limited; nevertheless I presented them with the idea of establishing in Virginia an incentive program that included a first-time home buyer tax credit, similar to that federal credit.
Since that initial meeting, the realtors (state and local), state homebuilders, and other interested parties conducted several work sessions. This workgroup asked many others including legislators, industry representatives, and non-profits for input. What developed were broad discussions about what the Virginia General Assembly could do not only to reach out to a the sagging housing sector, but also what we could do now to ensure that in the future all of Virginia's citizens would access well-designed, quality constructed housing in safe neighborhoods with good schools and close to good paying jobs. Housing is not simply a pivotal economic engine, but also a key component in our quality of life.
As we stand here today as legislators and citizens, we know that there is no silver bullet for a speedy recovery for our national and state economies. And yet we also know that when the recovery begins, how quickly it happens, and how strong it is depends--in large measure-- upon the recovery of the housing industry. The measures we present today have been thoughtfully considered and will prove to be assets for both the housing industry, homeowners, and for those who are displaced from a home now needing access to housing as renters.
Before I turn the podium over to Senator McEachin I would like to emphasize that we are cognizant of how the downturn in the housing market has helped increase Virginia's budget shortfall. Fewer home sales equal fewer recordations, grantor and other taxes which equal less revenue for the state. So we believe it is imperative that the General Assembly take whatever prudent steps it can to incentivize activity in the housing market.
Second, in light of the difficult financial situation in which the state finds itself, the measures we are presenting today will not result any net increase in spending or dedication of existing General Funds.
I look forward to working with all of my colleagues and Senator McEachin as we work to pass this Help Housing Now legislation.