Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Contact Your Legislators NOW on Budget- Two Alerts

We have two active action alerts on budget. As you may know, both the Governor and the House of Delegates have expanded Medicaid in Virginia. By pulling down the $3.2 billion in Federal dollars, Virginia can expand health care coverage for thousands of Virginians. As if that wasn't enough, the expansion will allow us to use these Federal dollars to cover some of the Medicaid programs we are currently paying for with state revenues. That action frees up nearly $400 million in state money over the biennium. That money can be reallocated to vital state programs including our public schools. The Senate budget does not expand Medicaid and that decision forced them to make significant cuts to the Governor's budget and to vital public services.

Clearly, expanding Medicaid is good for Virginia and is just good business.

There are very distinct differences between the two budgets, but the House invests those Medicaid savings by adding more than $92 million in K-12 public education than the Governors proposed budget. The Senate, who failed to expand Medicaid, had to cut from the Governor's budget by more than $65 million in our public schools. That is a difference of more than $157 million between the two chambers' spending on K-12.

The biggest cut in the Senate budget was to the already meager 2% salary increase for teachers and support staff that was included at then very end of the biennial budget by the Governor. The Senate eliminated all salary action, period. Virginia's teacher salaries are already among the lowest in the country. Every legislator in the General Assembly admits we have a teacher shortage crisis in Virginia, yet they decided to cut even the smallest raise from their budget. That is unacceptable.

Click here to contact your member of the Virginia Senate and urge them to invest in Virginia by expanding medicaid. We can't afford not to .

The House of Delegates uses the state revenues freed up by the Federal Medicaid dollars to invest in our public schools. They EXPAND the raise for teachers and support staff for a whole year. They increase the Lottery fund by more than $91 million. These dollars go to school divisions on a per pupil basis and there is no local match required. School divisions can use this money as it best suits their students and schools.

The House of Delegates did the right thing. They made real investments in our schools, our teachers, and our support staff. We still have a long way to go, and we would like to see salary action in BOTH years of the biennium as we requested, but at least the House invests in us.

Click here to contact your member of the House of Delegates and tell thank thank you for making real investing in Virginia. Let them know that we stand strong with them. Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do for Virginia and for our public schools.