Last Sunday, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled recommendations for the budget for FY 2017 and 2018. On Thursday we considered amendments to the budget and voted on each proposal in the full House of Delegates. As expected, there were winners and losers. The big winner: Education. The big loser: Medicaid expansion. As you know, education and Medicaid expansion have been top priorities for me. I celebrate and heartily endorse the bipartisan efforts to improve and fund our schools. In the budget, we are proposing to give our teachers and support staff a 2% raise. Direct aid to our K-12 schools will increase by $897.7 million. Our colleges and universities will receive $127.4 million to increase access and affordability for in-state undergraduates and $52.7 million for in-state financial aid. The House version of the budget actually provides more education funding than either the Senate or the Governor’s proposals. You can see a side by side comparison with the Governor’s introduced budget, along with the House and Senate recommendations in PDF form by clicking here.
The House budget includes significant investments in our economy too. Of enormous importance to our community, Dulles Airport will receive $50 million over the next two years to drive down costs and increase its competitiveness. We will also invest $73 million to promote regional economic development through Go Virginia and the Virginia Research, Development, and Commercialization Fund. I am pleased to say that we have worked in a bipartisan manner to move the new Virginia Economy forward.
However, I have significant heartburn because we have some enormous missed opportunities. In a party line vote, the House of Delegates chose to turn down over $3 billion in federal funds Virginians have already paid to expand Medicaid. Instead, we’re choosing to spend our state dollars to pay for Medicaid programs, and eliminating much-needed initiatives that would have been covered by funds available through expansion. Also, because of this, we are forgoing tax cuts to Virginia families and businesses.
- 306 #1h and 306 #11h – Eliminate Medicaid Expansion.
- 393 #4h – Wastes over $34 million in funding for hospital services for inmates that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
- 315 #1h – Wastes over $40 million in funding for Community Service Boards that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
- 388 #1h – Eliminates $4.4 million for mental health resources in probation and parole offices that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
- 398 #2h – Eliminates $5 million for mental health resources in local and regional jails that would have been covered under Medicaid Expansion.
Also along party lines, the House chose not to expand access to family planning programs that could have reduced unwanted teen pregnancy by 40% and reduced abortion by up to 42%, as was the case in Colorado. I made the objection to this amendment.
- 295 #1h – Eliminates $9 million in TANF funding for long-acting contraception (LARC) pilot program to educate providers and patients on availability of LARC options.
Even with the significant disappointment surrounding healthcare, the strength of the education and economic investment made supporting the House budget an easy choice. It passed with almost unanimous support.
Over the next several days our conferees will be negotiating the final budget package and will present it to us again before our session ends for a final vote. I’ve found the Appropriations members and conferees to be very open and willing to listen to concerns. Please share your thoughts and concerns with me so that I can continue to advocate for our district.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed meeting with constituents and hearing their concerns.
Visit my Facebook page for more pictures
I met with a group of House Pages to help them prepare for their mock legislative session.
Girl Scouts visited and gave presentations about their Gold Star projects.
The annual House and Senate Basketball game was great fun. The House won, our House Pages received the spirit award and we raised funds for the Massey Cancer Center.
March 1 is Primary Election Day
Don’t forget to go vote at your usual polling place. Polls are open until 7pm today, and you may only vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. You’ll also need a photo ID that shows your picture and name, just like in the General Election in November.
Visiting the Capitol
While the General Assembly is in session, feel free to stop by my Richmond office in room 715 of the General Assembly Building. Be sure to keep an eye on the day’s schedule, which can be found at the GA’s website, and also call at 804-698-1086 to get on my calendar.
If you have a matter that concerns state government, contact my Richmond office during session at 804-698-1086 or send an email to DelJBoysko@house.virginia.gov. Even if it’s with another government level, we can help you get connected with the appropriate person.