Saturday, February 22, 2014

House Democrats object to budget without Medicaid expansion

Richmond, VA – Today, the House of Delegates passed its Biennial Budget Bill (HB 30), after Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to close the health care coverage gap.

“We cannot support a budget that does nothing to close the health care coverage gap,” said Democratic House Leader David Toscano. “This budget fails to assist the around 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians and fails to accept the Federal money our hospitals need to continue serving their communities.”

“By refusing to take our own Federal tax dollars, we are intruding upon other important areas of our state budget to make up for the cuts our hospitals face,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Sickles. “This budget cuts important priorities like education, research, technology transfer, and economic development all because House Republicans refuse to close the coverage gap and access our Federal tax dollars.”

Speaking against an amendment that cuts $10.7 million from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund in HB 29, Delegate Matthew James said, “Taking money from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund means we are limiting jobs and economic development opportunities. As we struggle out of the recession and fight the impacts of sequestration and federal budget cuts, it is important to maintain efforts to improve the economy of the Commonwealth.”

Speaking against amendments that cut funding to public safety measures, Delegate Vivian Watts said, “Law enforcement is basic. The House budget shift of over $10 million state dollars away from public safety to health care cuts funding for 100 police officers in Virginia’s cities and urban counties, creates long court delays in our busiest courts, and turns away from the resolve of just last year to increase school security staffing following Sandy Hook.”

Speaking against amendments that cut funding for restoration of rights, Delegate Marcus Simon (D- Fairfax) said, “It is unconscionable that the House Appropriations Committee would defund Governor McDonnell’s initiative to streamline the process by which Virginia restores the rights of felons who have completed their sentences and paid their debt to society. More than 7 percent of Virginia’s voting-age population is disenfranchised because of a past felony conviction – and 1 in 5 African Americans of voting age in Virginia. It is simply undemocratic to deprive such a large segment of the population of the fundamental right to vote.”

“Under a purely fiscal analysis, this is a classic example of a short term cut with long term costs. As we perpetuate barriers to successful reentry to society, we increase recidivism rates leading to expensive and avoidable incarcerations,” he added.

Speaking against an amendment to cut funding to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, a leading advocate for affordable housing in the General Assembly and the sponsor of legislation creating the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, said, “Virginia’s economy looks good on paper, but people across the state are struggling to make ends meet. Virginians who work hard and play by the rules should be able to live and raise their families in the communities in which they work. They shouldn’t need to work multiple jobs just to pay the rent.”

Speaking against an amendment to cut funding to foster care, Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) said, “Cutting the maintenance payments for foster care hurts children who have already suffered untold abuses and neglect. The Commonwealth of Virginia has a responsibility to these children to make sure they have the financial support they deserve so that they can thrive. We should not balance the budget on the backs of abused and neglected children.”

Speaking against an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, Minority Whip, Delegate Charniele Herring said, “Defunding Planned Parenthood would cut off access to affordable health care for the more than 24,000 Virginians who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers every year. Politicians should not be interfering in where Virginia women turn to for basic preventive health care.”

Speaking against an amendment that would prevent funding for an executive order on TRAP, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn said, “This amendment is another targeted attack on women’s health care. Because of the onerous and medically unnecessary TRAP restrictions approved by this body in 2011, many women in the Commonwealth have seen their only option for high quality, low-cost access to life saving cancer screenings and health care advice in their community close.”

Speaking against an amendment to repeal funding for low-income women who suffer tragic fetal health complications, Delegate Jennifer McClellan said, “Virginia women should not be denied health care based on their ability to pay. This amendment further reduces access to necessary care for low-income women.”

Speaking on a floor amendment to adequately fund the Voter ID law, Delegate Rob Krupicka said, “Virginia’s Voter ID law requires all voters to have a valid identification in order to cast their ballot. Over 330,000 active Virginia voters currently don’t have a driver’s license. However, the proposed budget only has enough funds to provide free voter ID cards to about 4,000 people. By not fixing this, we risk disenfranchising tens of thousands of Virginia voters and we also put the constitutionality of Virginia’s Voter ID Law into question.”

Speaking on a floor amendment to defund the Opportunity Educational Institute, Delegate Rob Krupicka said, “The proposed budget cuts funding for the Opportunity Educational Institute down to only $150,000 a year and removes 6 out of the 7 staff positions.  This is a good step, but we should finish the job and completely de-fund this school take-over program.  If we want to help struggling students in Virginia, we should start with a full study of what those students need, to understand where they are excelling and where they are struggling so we can put forward a policy based in fact and evidence.”

 Speaking on a floor amendment to increase funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative, Delegate Kaye Kory said, “Virginia’s funding for early learning has been a shell game for an ever-changing formula that discourages localities from investing in pre-K education. Approximately half of all at-risk 4-year olds are served by either VPI or Head Start.  This is a shameful lack of investment in our future workforce.  It’s time to stop using accounting tricks to bolster our claim of valuing early learning and put our money where our mouth is.”

 Speaking on his Cost to Compete floor amendment, Delegate Scott Surovell said, “Northern Virginia’s localities are still struggling from state cuts to teacher and support staff funding. The Commonwealth needs to step up and fulfill its obligation to Northern Virginia’s children and fund education. I am disappointed that the General Assembly failed to appropriate $7 million to come up with its nearly $70 million cut to Cost to Compete.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, State Politics

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