With only two weeks remaining in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly session, the House and Senate are heavily focused on the state budget. Both chambers have adopted amendments to the Governor’s introduced budget, and leaders will begin negotiations soon over the differences between the House and Senate amendments.
Here are some key floor votes taken on budget items of particular interest to the Virginia Catholic Conference:
Restricting taxpayer-funded abortion: In a 64-34-1 vote, the House opted to restore the restrictions against abortion funding that had been in place during the McDonnell Administration – restrictions that had been removed by Governor McAuliffe in his introduced budget. The Senate budget also includes the McDonnell restrictions. Delegate Bob Marshall also offered a floor amendment to further restrict abortion funding, but that amendment did not receive a recorded vote. The Conference will continue to advocate for banning taxpayer funding of abortion to the greatest extent possible and looks forward to working with budget leaders to send abortion funding restrictions to the Governor’s desk. The Conference would like to thank Senator Carrico and Delegates Marshall and LaRock for their consistent advocacy against abortion funding each year the budget is considered.
Prohibiting “reproductive education” pilot program funding: In a 64-34 vote, the House rejected Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to accept a $9 million federal grant to provide and promote “long-acting reversible contraceptives” (e.g., IUDs and under-skin implants) through the state Department of Health. The Senate also rejected the proposal, thanks to an amendment offered by Senator Bryce Reeves and adopted by the Finance Committee.
Opposed by the Conference, the Governor’s proposal would have resulted in more aggressive promotion of contraception to low-income women and teens—an especially dangerous proposal given there is no requirement in federal or Virginia law for minors to have parental consent before having a contraceptive device implanted.
Expanding access to health care: Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget included federal funds to expand Medicaid and thereby provide access to health insurance for some 400,000 uninsured Virginians. The House, however, stripped this funding in a 66-34 vote. The Senate budget also prohibits the expansion of Medicaid. The Conference supports Medicaid expansion as part of its overall advocacy for healthcare that covers everyone and protects everyone, born and unborn.
Adding ID/DD Waivers: Supported by a unanimous vote, the House budget provides 150 additional waivers (slots) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on waiting lists to receive vital services. The Senate budget includes an additional 400 waivers. The Conference wishes to thank Senator Hanger and Delegate Cox for their leadership on this issue during the committee process.
Medicaid Waivers are the funding mechanisms that provide community-based services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Examples of essential community-based supports provided through Waivers include residential, day support, employment, in-home, respite and personal care assistance services.