of the election are not known to me as I write this column, but polling
suggests that there will be a shift towards the middle of the political
spectrum in the Old Dominion this year. Seldom have the choices been
clearer on political philosophy among the statewide and House of
Delegates candidates as they were in this election.
faces some serious challenges that the new governor and the General
Assembly must take on. Regardless of the claims that the state has had a
budget surplus the last four years, the Commonwealth has experienced
slow growth during this period that has produced small ending balances
as a result of conservatively estimated revenues. When measured against
the unmet needs in many areas of the budget, state coffers are empty.
Transportation needs will take some dollars from a general fund that is
already inadequate to address education, mental health and other
pressing issues. Fairfax County Public Schools are facing a $140 million
deficit in part because of the declining per student support from the
outgoing governor will propose a budget for the next biennium, but the
priorities of that budget will need close scrutiny by the new governor
and General Assembly. The slow erosion of support for public education
at all levels needs to be reversed. With all the data that support the
value of preschool programs, the state's investment in these programs
needs to increase. Mental health programs are grossly underfunded with
as many as a third of local jail populations being persons in need of
mental health treatment.
legislation is in place to allow Virginia to move into an expanded
Medicaid program, there seems to be reluctance on the part of the
commission appointed to bring about certain reforms to take the last
step of expanding Medicaid even though the reforms have been
accomplished. The new governor should ask the General Assembly to act
right away to extend insurance to 400,000 Virginians and to pay for it
by receiving federal dollars paid by Virginians. There is no good reason
for those dollars to go to residents of another state when there are
over a million Virginians without health insurance.
the location of one of the greatest incidents of gun violence--Virginia
Tech--the state needs to enact important gun safety measures that will
expand background checks to all gun sales and to expand its background
database to include persons with violent mental health illnesses. We
need also to recognize that the world has passed us by, and we need to
repeal the marriage amendment to allow people who are in love to marry
regardless of their sexual orientation. Likewise we need to pass laws
against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
is the beginning of the list of work for the legislature to do.I always
invite your recommendations on legislation; email me at email@example.com.
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