Hey VA friends! We hope everyone is doing well on this hot and humid Tuesday 😅.
We’re back with a new newsletter and in today’s post we dive deep into the newly passed Inflation Reduction Act, what it does, what it includes and who it impacts. We also share the latest news on the Teacher Shortage happening in Virginia and across the U.S, as school starts up again soon, schools are finding themselves having to increase class sizes and find innovative ways to recruit new teachers. Learn more above and on our website.
Lastly we share some trending Virginia Headlines that include the Boeing career fairs, the approval of Dominion’s offshore wind project and jumping worms you NEED to watch out for.
What do you think about today’s newsletter? Comment which story you found the most interesting below ⤵️
Here’s this week's updates - we have news on;
▪️ The Inflation Reduction Act Passed - What does it do?
▪️ Teach Shortage across Virginia
▪️ Virginia Headlines
▪️ COVID-19 Data
▪️ Vaccine Data
📜 Inflation Reduction Act
After an all-night debate on Capitol Hill from Saturday into Sunday, and votes on 37 amendments - the Inflation Reduction Act passed the Senate 51-to-50.
The bill would be the country’s biggest climate investment in U.S. history, and also deliver health care subsidies for millions, and enact a 15% minimum tax on corporations that make more than $1 billion in profits. The bill is aimed at lowering the deficit, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and tackling climate change.
Although the version the Senate passed on Sunday is significantly smaller than President Biden’s original promises for the package—which was earlier known as the Build Back Better Act—party leaders maintain that this legislation will still address voters’ main concerns.
The bill will invest more than $360 billion in energy and climate change programs over the next decade, including cash incentives for electric vehicle consumers and tax breaks to speed up the country’s transition to renewable energy sources.
Senate Democrats say the bill will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 40% by 2030, about 10% below the target Biden originally pledged to reach last year at the Leaders Summit on Climate that he hosted at the White House.
An additional $60 billion will be given to cities that are disproportionately affected by climate change, and millions more as “climate resiliency funding” for Native American communities.
Health Care Subsidies:
The bill could also reduce healthcare costs for many Americans by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate the price of medicine with drugmakers, and ensuring that recipients pay a maximum of $2,000 in out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions annually.
Congress was also seeking to cap the amount uninsured people pay for insulin at $35. But this provision was removed by Senate Republicans on Sunday during the amendment process, though the same cap for insulin users on Medicare remains in the bill.
Corporate Tax Rates:
The bill’s costs would be covered in part by a new 15% minimum tax rate applied to corporations with profits of $1 billion or more. It would also make companies pay a 1% tax when they buy back their own stock and significantly beef up the IRS’s tax evasion enforcement.
A measure that would have minimized the carried interest tax—which allows hedge fund managers to have their profits taxed at a lower rate of 20% as opposed to the individual income tax rate of 37% for the highest bracket of earners—was cut to ensure Sinema’s support.
The estimated $740 billion package now heads to the House up for a vote.
President Biden says that families making less than $400,000 a year will not see a tax increase.
🏫 Teacher Shortage
Schools across Virginia are dealing with a major teacher shortage.
The Great Resignation is hitting classrooms across Virginia as teachers leave the profession. Chad Stewart at the Virginia Education Association says it's a trend driven by low pay for teachers, a shortage of support staff and fallout from the pandemic.
Locally, counties across the commonwealth are seeing teacher vacancies increase in large numbers. In a meeting last week, Spotsylvania County Superintendent Kelly Guempel described the division’s staffing needs as “severe,” with 114 vacant teaching positions a week before the start of the school year. A few days earlier, Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid informed parents the district was “working hard” to overcome a teacher shortage that’s left roughly 3% of classrooms unstaffed ahead of the fall semester.
In Richmond, Superintendent Jason Kamras described the number of vacancies as the worst he’s seen in nearly 30 years as an educator. As of July 29, the division was still struggling to fill 163 open teaching positions across the city’s elementary, middle and high schools — roughly double the number of vacancies as the previous year. On Monday, Henrico County reported a little more than 211 open teaching positions, and Chesterfield County had 243 vacancies left to fill as of Aug. 4, according to data from the division.
Virginia isn’t the only state to grapple with massive teacher shortages, which have reached crisis levels across the country, according to reporting by The Washington Post. But education advocates say the staffing shortfalls, compounded by the wave of resignations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight lingering problems with pay, burnout and classroom conditions.
The rush to cover classrooms before the start of the school year has also fueled new initiatives — and big spending — on recruitment and retention. In Virginia Beach, for example, the local school board approved a 6% raise for all new employees in addition to a $1,000 retention bonus expected in December. The division is also adding two mental health days to its employee benefits plan and reducing out-of-pocket health premium costs by up to 53%, which equates to yearly savings of roughly $4,219 for staff members with a family plan, according to spokesperson Natalie Allen.
Schools that serve low-income students and Black students have higher teacher vacancy rates – according to numbers from the Department of Education. That's especially true in southside Virginia, where the vacancy rates are higher than any other part of the state.
📰 Virginia Headlines
⚫️ ABC 7 WJLA News: Boeing is hosting in-person career fairs this weekend as HQ moves to Virginia. Boeing is hosting career fairs in Arlington, Herndon and Fairfax, Va. to fill multiple positions as the airplane manufacturer establishes its global headquarters in Northern Virginia, according to a press release.
The company is now looking for experienced engineering, operations, training systems, electricians, IT planning, maritime autonomous systems and finance professionals.
The career fairs will take place on Aug. 11, 12 and 15. Here's what you need to know:
Arlington: 12 p.m. -6 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2022
Hyatt Centric - 1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. 22209
Hiring experienced engineering, operations, and training systems professionals
Herndon: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2022
Westin Washington Dulles - 2520 Wasser Terrace, Herndon, Va. 20171
Hiring experienced engineering, electricians, IT planning, maritime autonomous systems and finance professionals
Fair Oaks: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2022
Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks - 11787 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Fairfax, Va. 22033
Hiring experienced engineering professionals and senior-level administrators
Boeing encourages candidates to apply before the career fairs or meet with hiring managers at the events about the open positions.
⚫️ WYDaily - Regulators approve Dominion offshore wind project. State regulators on Friday approved plans by Dominion Energy to construct the nation’s largest offshore wind farm in waters off Virginia Beach but imposed several conditions intended to protect ratepayers, including reporting requirements for cost overruns and a performance guarantee.
The hotly anticipated ruling from the Virginia State Corporation Commission gives Dominion the state’s go-ahead to embark on the $9.8 billion project.
⚫️ ABC 8 WRIC News: Invasive jumping worms found in Chesterfield. The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) is warning the public about an invasive species of worm found in Chesterfield County.
The jumping worm, also known as Alabama jumpers, Jersey wrigglers, snake worms, and crazy worms, are named after their thrashing active behavior when handled or disturbed. Jumping worms thrash rapidly from side to side in a snake-like motion to escape capture, and can even shed the tail end of their body, according to the VCE.
What do they look like?
Jumping worms are reddish to brownish-purple in color, and can sometimes have a glossy, iridescent sheen. The worms are usually around three to six inches long and .2 to .3 inches wide. The worms also have a signature pale-colored band of tissue that wraps completely around, smooth and flush with the body.
⚕️COVID-19 & Vaccine Data:
COVID Data in Virginia:
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,981,758. The 1,981,758 consists of 1,409,699 confirmed and 572,059 probable cases. There are 21,075 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 24.0%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, August 8
Total Doses Administered: 16,479,167
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 7,063,606 or 82.2%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 92.7%
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,185,220 or 72.0%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 81.2%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 3,641,720
Thanks again for joining us this week! Let us know what you thought down below and catch back up with us next week for another VA Updates Newsletter.
- María Reynoso, Editor-in-Chief