Top 3 Headlines on WHSV.com December 16

These are the most viewed headlines on WHSV.com for December 16. Stories with available video will have a link in the headline.

Military Pensions Could Be Cut Under Proposed Budget Deal

Reporter: Estephany Escobar

Waynesboro, Va. (WHSV) -- Under the proposed federal budget deal, the military pension cost of living raises would be cut by one percent for retirees under the age of 62.

Jeff Jones who served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years said this would impact his yearly budget.

He uses his pension as part of his income. "It is enough to say I have to do things differently this year or next year when that happens. Tighten the belt like everybody does. Tighten the belt here and there," said Jones.

He said when he enlisted, the government offered retirement benefits for serving more than 20 years. "There is that little aspect that we are being betrayed, again by people who don't know what the military is like," said Jones.

According to political analyst David McQuilkin, pensions are a large portion of the military budget.

"Military as well as federal are easy targets, they don't have many opportunities to resist or to complain so those are the ones they attack first," said McQuilkin.

According to the Military Officers Association of America, a group that opposes the deal, those who retire after serving 20 years would see a 20 percent cut by the time they are 62. For a retiring Sergeant First Class, this could mean an average loss of $3,700, according to the MOAA.

This could add up to about $80,000 over 20 years.

Jones said Congress should look at other areas it can cut its budget.

"There were times on those 20 years that I could have or would have or was putting my life on the line for my government and they said this is what would happen if you do that and now they say they won't," said Jones.

McQuilkin said he expects the Senate to pass the budget deal but it may be a close vote. He said some Republicans may not vote for the budget deal, if they are seeking reelection.

  

How McDonnell's Proposed Budget May Impact the Valley

Reporter: Nicole DiAntonio

BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) -- Gov. Bob McDonnell announced his state budget Monday which covers the next two fiscal years and totals almost $100 billion.

In that budget, he proposed additional funding for mental health initiatives, public education and prisoner reentry forms, among other programs.

David McQuilkin, a local political analyst, said transportation and education are two key issues that will make a difference locally.

He said the transportation money could help improve our roads and ultimately bring more local businesses and commercial activity into our area.

Regarding education, JMU is one of the biggest public universities in Virginia, so this budget increase would give the university more money to operate.

"JMU on the other hand, is going to look for significant advancements in what they have been getting. Building, but also new faculty, much like UVA. And, new programs which are going to be expensive in some respects to implement," said McQuilkin.

He also said there is no guarantee any of these changes will happen because McDonnell's governorship is coming to a close.

We will have to wait and see the long term impact of this budget once Terry McAuliffe comes into office next month, according to McQuilkin.

 

Massanutten Resort Sees Increase in Business

Reporter: Carly Stephenson

McGaheysville, Va. (WHSV) -- The cold weather means good business for Massanutten Resort.

The resort is already into its full season and they are offering some new opportunities this season.

In addition to skiing and tubing, they're also offering zip lining through the winter season.

In 2012, they didn't open until Christmas Eve. Managers say opening up almost a month earlier has given them a lot more business.

They've already had people sign up for double the amount of season passes.

Plus, this year ten slopes are open compared to just three slopes last year.

"Participation is definitely up, I think enthusiasm is really good this year starting off because you know we've already had a couple of natural snows and that's what brings them out," said Steven Showalter, with Massanutten Resort.

Managers at the resort hope to open four more slopes around Christmas, when kids go on winter break.

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