With the General Assembly scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, budget negotiations remain at an impasse. Work on the budget will go into overtime because of sharp disagreements over whether to use federal dollars to provide health coverage to between 250,000 and 400,000 low-income, uninsured Virginians.  For however long the stalemate lasts, the Virginia Catholic Conference will advocate for its budget priorities, including healthcare that covers every life and protects every life, born and unborn.

Here’s how some key Conference priorities fared this week:

Actions by the Governor

Scholarship Tax Credit Program:  Conference-supported legislation, SB 269 (Senator Stanley), was signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on Thursday.  The technical change allows donations to scholarship foundations to be claimed for a Scholarship Tax Credit in the taxable year the donation was made.  Previously, a one-year delay between the tax year in which the donation was made and the tax year in which the credit could be claimed was a disincentive for some potential donors.  With the passage of this improvement, the program is now more attractive than ever for donors, who can receive a 65% state tax credit in addition to a federal deduction. Learn how you can take advantage of this tax credit and support Catholic education in the Diocese of Arlington and the Diocese of Richmond.

Governor’s Amendment to Genetic Counselor Licensing Bill: Earlier this week, Governor McAuliffe also proposed an amendment to a genetic counselor licensing bill.  When the bill passed the General Assembly, it had included strong Conference-supported conscience protections ensuring that no counselor would be forced to be involved in counseling that conflicts with his or her religious or moral beliefs.  The Governor’s amendment, however, would have weakened these protections. The Conference worked together with the Family Foundation to lobby against the amendment, and the Senate rejected it 23-17.

Budget Items

Housing Trust Fund: Then-Governor McDonnell’s outgoing budget included $8 million over the next two years for the Housing Trust Fund. The Senate maintained this funding level in its budget; however, the House version eliminated all funding for the Housing Trust Fund.  As budget negotiations continue, please click here to urge your Senators and Delegates to preserve the Housing Trust Fund, which provides an important source of low-interest loans for community affordable housing providers as well as programs for the homeless.

Compensation for Victims of Forced Sterilizations: Disgracefully, Virginia operated a misguided eugenics program from 1924 to 1979 and involuntarily sterilized thousands of Virginians.  The Conference and other groups are advocating the state compensate the still-living victims of this deplorable program.  The House budget includes $500,000 to compensate these victims.  Under this Conference-supported proposal, each eugenics victim with a verified claim would receive $25,000.  The Senate budget, however, includes no funding.  As budget negotiations continue, click here and tell your Senator and Delegate to ensure the Commonwealth takes responsibility for its wrongful past conduct by providing restitution in this year’s budget.

Bishop Loverde Re-Issues Pastoral Letter on Pornography

Bishop Loverde of Arlington has re-issued his pastoral letter, Bought with a Price , renewing his call for the faithful to join together in rooting out the insidious poison of pornography, which has become ubiquitous in our culture, destroying souls, marriages and families.  Click here to read Bishop Loverde’s pastoral letter. Read the Conference blog post about the pastoral letter and the harms of pornography here.