After Brief Special Session, Voices for Virginia’s Children Call on Lawmakers to Step Up for Families in State Budget
April 4, 2022
RICHMOND, Va. – Today, Virginia lawmakers returned to Richmond for a short special session on the state budget, but the House and Senate did not reach an agreement about budget compromises. The future of the two-year state budget is still up in the air.
Emily Griffey, chief policy officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children, issued the following statement:
“We call on the House and Senate to reach an agreement that includes parents and invests in our historically underfunded education, behavioral health, and child welfare systems. With an unprecedented surplus of state revenue, it is time for Virginia lawmakers to step up for children and families.
“Parents are dealing with rising costs, global inflation, and economic uncertainty. Lawmakers can provide direct tax relief to families through two options: a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) — which is included in the Senate budget – to provide more economic support to the lowest income families next year, and a one-time parent relief payment in the coming months for families with dependents to receive higher one-time relief payments.
“In addition to having the fiscal strength to provide these tax relief options for families, Virginia is fortunate to have a strong revenue outlook with resources to invest in education and human services systems. Lawmakers must reach a budget compromise that includes:
- Adequate funding for our education system from preschool to high schools in economically-disadvantaged school districts.
- Funding to address the student mental health crisis, including $5 million each year for a student mental health integration program for schools.
- Investments in the Virginia Mental Health Access Program and Medicaid reimbursement to stabilize a pediatric behavioral health system strained by the pandemic.
- Resources for families at-risk of entering the foster care system. The proposed budget includes long overdue resources to support child welfare. Lawmakers must support the House proposal to facilitate regional collaboration among child welfare agencies with kinship placements.
“With budget negotiations continuing largely out of the public eye, Voices encourages lawmakers to prioritize parents and to support children and youth with the budget surplus. Our overburdened and underfunded systems have made relief an urgent need that is within our reach. We ask lawmakers to unite and put needs of children and families first.”
Voices for Virginia’s Children is a nonprofit organization committed to improving and protecting the lives of Virginia’s children, youth, and families. We believe every child should have equitable access to the resources, services and opportunities needed to thrive. For us, that means advocating for sound policies, educating the public, mobilizing communities, utilizing data to determine unmet needs, and leading with compassion. Our aim is to always close the systemic gaps that fail children, prioritize racial justice in policymaking, and ensure every voice has a role in shaping their future.