Voices’ Blog

2018 Legislative Session Update: Budget Will Go into Overtime

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

Yesterday — day 58 of the 60-day General Assembly session — the House and Senate announced that they were not able to reach an agreement about providing health insurance coverage to uninsured Virginians. Without resolution of this issue that affects the entire state budget, the General Assembly will now go into overtime. This will likely be a special session to continue working on the big question of whether to expand Medicaid and to hash out the other details in the budget.

We were pleased that the House budget included a two-step approach to pulling down federal funds to provide health insurance to up to 400,000 working Virginians, many of whom are parents. By pulling down these resources, the House budget also invests more in other areas, such as education.

As the 13 members  appointed by the House and Senate to form a conference committee to continue to negotiate the differences in the budget, we ask that they keep the two-step approach the House has proposed for expanding health insurance coverage. We also ask them to include other priorities reflected on Voices’ legislative agenda.

Our budget priorities in large part reflect the work of legislative commissions and workgroups that developed proposals before the General Assembly convened.

Recommendations of the Deeds Commission to Transform Mental Health Services in the 21st Century

Recommendations of the Commission on Youth

  • The House budget includes a review of trauma-informed practice in the Children’s Services Act, and the Senate budget includes proposals to improve trauma-informed practice in health and mental health. Since there are two different proposals to improve trauma-informed practice we support the Commission on Youth’s original request to create an interagency workgroup to define best practices in trauma-informed care.
  • The House budget includes an additional $250,000 each year in general funds to Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) for teachers, administrators, and specialized instructional support personnel. VTSS addresses both the academic and behavioral needs of students; including students impacted by trauma. (Item 129 #1h)

Recommendations related to the JLARC Report: Improving Virginia’s Early Childhood Programs

  • With a number of proposals to strengthen Virginia’s early learning system on the table, we support adding additional responsibilities for the Jt. Subcommittee on VPI Reform to advise on early childhood policy. (Item 1 #1s)
  • Several proposal seek to improve the quality of the Virginia Preschool Initiative. We believe that the House proposal asking the Department of Education to develop a VPI improvement plan and identify needed resources is a good first step. (Item 136 #4h)
  • To help support the cost of a quality instruction in VPI, we support the Senate’s proposal to increase the VPI per pupil allocation to $6,500. (Item 136 #10s)
  • It is important to understand the quality of VPI programs. Both the House and Senate proposed additional funding for classroom observations in VPI. (Items 136 #5h &136 #11s)
  • And to help parents as their child’s first teacher we support the House proposal to strengthen Virginia’s voluntary home visiting network by investing TANF funds in the backbone organization, Early Impact Virginia (Item 340#3h)

Recommendations of the Barriers to Treatment for Substance-Exposed Infants Workgroup

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