Since the House and Senate could not agree on a budget during the regular General Assembly Session, which adjourned in March, the Governor has called us back for a Special Session to get it done. The Special Session begins April 11, 2018, but no action will occur immediately on the budget. The new budget bill introduced by Governor Northam will have to go through the regular committee process just like the previous one. The House Appropriations Committee will begin its work quickly, and so it’s entirely possible that a House budget will be ready in time for floor debate on Tuesday, April 17 – but this could change depending on scheduling. We expect that the House budget will include Medicaid expansion and the hospital provider assessment, which allows us to expand without use of additional state dollars, much like it did in the regular Session, but we are not sure yet what will be included in the Senate’s budget. Because the Senate initially rejected Medicaid expansion and the provider assessment, its budget cut more than $400 million from education and other services that would have been funded by accepting the federal Medicaid dollars. While there has been some recent media coverage suggesting that Medicaid expansion will be adopted by the Senate, nothing is assured until the green lights go up on the vote board, and there will need to be considerable negotiations before a final budget compromise is reached. The momentum is positive, but Senate Republican leadership is now the main barrier, and we need to keep advocating for expansion. More than 7,000 citizens in our area would benefit from Medicaid expansion and it would certainly help our local hospitals by recapturing some of the money that would otherwise be spent on indigent care. You can watch the online live stream of the special session here. [Read more…]
The 2014 Virginia General Assembly Session began on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, when 100 delegates were sworn in and Gov. McDonnell gave his final “State of the Commonwealth” address. The outgoing Governor gave a deeply personal speech, apologizing for his transgressions over the last year and celebrating what he considered to be a number of singular achievements. He praised the bipartisan transportation bill passed last year, which would never have passed without the substantial support of the Democrats in the House. One of the highlights of the speech was when he welcomed back Senator Creigh Deeds with a simple, “Welcome back, Creigh; we love you.” This brought a standing ovation among the Assembly, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, and the gallery.
Another highlight of the first week involved the unveiling of the bipartisan conceptual agreement on ethics reform. This is described in greater detail in an op-ed piece that I co-authored with Majority Leader Kirk Cox. You can read it here.
Little business was transacted in the first week, but challenges await. Paramount among these is the passage of a two-year budget and the questions of whether we will accept federal monies to insure 400,000 additional Virginians who are not presently covered. Gov. McAuliffe and I strongly support this; the House Republican Caucus strongly opposes it. If we are to pass changes in Medicaid, we will have to find a “Virginia Way” to do it. We need to find a way to cover those additional 400,000 Virginians, lessen the fiscal impact on hospitals and emergency rooms, keep Virginia taxpayer dollars in the Commonwealth rather than having them being sent to other places who have accepted Medicaid expansion, create 30,000 new jobs, and ensure that rural hospitals can remain open as engines of the economic activity and providers of critical health services. Hospital Associations says we are losing $5 million a day by not accepting the federal monies.
The highlight of the first week was undoubtedly the inauguration of Terry McAuliffe as the 72nd Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northern as the Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring as the Attorney General. They will make a great team. Governor McAuliffe struck a conciliatory tone in his inaugural address by stressing our common values and the need to work together to bring greater economic opportunity throughout the Commonwealth. He has been working very hard reaching out to Republicans to find common ground on a wide variety of issues. Whether they will allow some success is not yet clear. But I will be there fighting for the Governor’s legislative agenda.
We will shortly publish the results of our constituent’s survey. Thanks to those who took it.
You do not need to participate in the survey to provide us input on what you think is important for us to consider in Richmond. Please call my Richmond office at (804) 698-1057 or email me at DelDToscano@house.virginia.gov.
It is a pleasure serving you in the General Assembly.
The UVA College Republicans and University Democrats held a vigil Thursday, November 21 for Senator Creigh Deeds and his family. Here is my statement:
“On behalf of the Deeds family, I wish to offer their thanks for the outpouring of support, prayers, and concerns during this challenging time. The family wishes to report that Senator Deeds continues to improve day-by-day and intends to resume his role serving his constituents as quickly as he can. The family hopes that citizens will respect their privacy as they grieve the loss of Gus and attempt to recover from the tragedy of Tuesday, November 19.
We join tonight to grieve, to pray, and to rededicate ourselves to helping our families, friends, and neighbors, who experience pain in their lives and who need our support.
We grieve for the family of Gus Deeds – his sisters, Amanda, Susie, and Rebecca; his mother, Pam; and his father, Creigh, and Creigh’s wife, Siobhan. We pray, not only for them, but for Gus, a young man who was like many of you – smart, capable, engaged in life, with so much promise before him. We struggle to comprehend what is impossible to understand. And we search for deeper meaning – for the family and for ourselves.
We pray for the Deeds family, who so dearly loved Gus, and who struggled privately and mightily to help their son and brother in the face of obstacles that ultimately proved insurmountable. We pray that God gives Senator Deeds the strength to recover not just from the physical wounds, but from the pain of this terrible loss.
We hope that the community — local, state, and national — gives the Deeds family the space, respect, and privacy that they need during this difficult time.
This tragedy will be like so many others and become a public issue. I hope we can use it to dedicate ourselves to the task of improving a mental health system that failed this young man at a critical moment and requires careful attention so it will not fail others in the future.There may be a tendency to jump quickly to policy solutions – and those may be necessary. But as we search for ways to improve things, let us remember that this is first and foremost a family tragedy, and let us respect the fact that they need to find their own way – to find their own peace.”