The General Assembly is racing to complete a budget before its scheduled adjournment date of March 8, though many anticipate a more prolonged process. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates and Senate named twelve budget conferees – six Delegates and six Senators – to hash out a compromise between the two chambers’ respective budget proposals.
The Virginia Catholic Conference is advocating for several budget items, including pro-life language approved last week by the House that would restrict funding of abortions and Planned Parenthood and would prevent the state’s abortion clinic regulations from being suspended. The House budget also includes $500,000 to compensate victims of Virginia’s forced sterilization program, which operated between 1927 and 1979.Under this Conference-supported proposal, each eugenics victim with a verified claim would receive $25,000. Unfortunately, the House budget also cuts funding proposed by outgoing Governor McDonnell for the Housing Trust Fund and for new adoption and foster-care initiatives.
The Conference continues to advocate for the expansion of access to health care for low-income Virginians. In the Senate budget, two positive features are a proposal to enable the lowest-income Virginians to purchase private health insurance and a proposal to enable badly needed cost-of-living increases for TANF recipients. In days, weeks, and perhaps even months to come before a final budget is ironed out, the Conference will continue to pursue these priorities with the budget conferees. A top priority will be to advocate for healthcare that covers and protects every life, born and unborn.
The Conference also continues to lobby budget conferees to appropriate enough funds to ensure compliance with the Commonwealth’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to eliminate the waiting list for Medicaid ID/DD waivers. In an op-ed featured in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch, Conference Associate Director Michael Lewis urged the General Assembly to prioritize this vital need. To join your voice to today’s compelling op-ed, click here and urge your legislators to support additional funding for ID/DD waivers.