General Assembly Session Week 7
Key Investments for the Future of Our Commonwealth
The new Democratic majority is securing strong, sound investments for the Commonwealth’s future.
The House budget that passed this week maintains Virginia’s structural financial balance while delivering on the key legislative promises our majority made to voters in November.
Our budget gives well deserved pay raises to Virginia’s public school teachers, state employees and sworn State Police officers; supports a long overdue raise in the minimum wage and fully funds the Commonwealth’s Housing Trust Fund, in addition to many other essential investments. We make all this critical progress while maintaining Virginia’s AAA bond rating and well-earned reputation for fiscal responsibility.
Among many additional initiatives, the House version of the 2021-2022 Budget proposal would:
- provide over $7,000 in per pupil public school funding in each fiscal year, building on the Governor’s proposed budget by nearly $1,800;
- give our teachers a much deserved 4% raise over the biennium, which is an increase over the Governor’s request of 3%;
- add $4.9 million in 2021 and $5.2 million in 2022 to the teacher retiree health credit plans;
- allocate $70.1 million of additional funding to schools with a higher percentage of low-income students for resources like lunch, school supplies and books;
- continue the university tuition freeze through 2021;
- reserve $11 million for state agencies and universities to raise the minimum wage;
- give State Police a 4% pay raise over the next two years;
- add $9.4 million for alternative options to address overcrowding in state hospitals;
- increase support for the provision of vital Medicaid waivers for Virginians with an intellectual or developmental disability;
- establish the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange to lower insurance costs for Virginians;
- fund a reinsurance program to support participation in the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange, stabilizing rates and premiums;
- address racial disparities in maternal health by directing the Department of Health to adopt regulations governing the certification and public registration of doulas, requiring Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to cover midwifery services and extending Medicaid coverage to 12 months after birth;
- make additional investments in the Water Quality Improvement Fund and the Virginia Land Conservation Fund to protect our waterways and secure Virginia’s rich natural resources for future generations;
- raise Virginia’s reserve fund, also known as the “Rainy Day Fund”, to the highest level in our Commonwealth’s History.
We also make long-needed investments to fix Virginia’s school counselor shortage, modernize the Commonwealth’s transportation system, reform our criminal justice system, address the threats and injustices that result from climate change and make our communities safer from gun violence.
Thank you to Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, Vice Chairman Mark Sickles, House Appropriations Committee Staff Director Anne Oman and everyone who worked incredibly hard to build this budget, which truly moves our Commonwealth forward.
This week, the Senate passed their budget bill as well. As in the past, both are different and will need to be reconciled. In accordance with the duties of the Speaker of the House, I will appoint several members to the Budget Conference Committee to work with the appointed Senators and resolve the differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.
Honoring the Life of Alan Diamonstein
This week we celebrated and honored the life of former Delegate Alan Diamonstein on the House floor by passing House Joint Resolution 4, on which I am a co-patron. Alan was a tireless public servant who well-represented his constituents, party and all Virginians throughout his accomplished career.
In his time beyond the House of Delegates, he served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia, represented our Commonwealth on the Democratic National Committee and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of the National Housing Partnership.
Personally, I am incredibly grateful for all that Alan gave to our institutions, as well as his brilliant vision and guidance. While he will be sorely missed, his legacy lives on daily through the greatness of our treasured Commonwealth.
Capitol Classic Victory!
I was one proud basketball mom this week – both for Alana and Jeremy, as well as for the Capitol Classic champion House of Delegates team! In this year’s annual game against the Senate team, Alana scored the first basket of the night and Jeremy hit the buzzer beating 3-pointer to win it for the House! And most important, $32,000 was raised for the Massey Cancer Center!
It is my privilege to serve in the House of Delegates on your behalf and address the issues that face the 41st District and the Commonwealth as a whole. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you in Richmond or out-and-about in the 41st District. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance from my office.