Worst of the Week: Pretending the Conservative Budget Isn’t Bad for Virginia

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    Crossposted at ProgressVA.

    The Washington Post reports that Virginia State Senator Don McEachin said, in a recent statement, “This budget leaves gaping holes in the area of public education, transportation and the needs of Virginia families… Dollars for public education are below 2007 levels and the budget allows for 5 students more per classroom than SOQ [Standards of Quality] levels… We are taking monies out of our struggling public school system, the system that serves the vast majority of Virginia children and prepares them for the 21st century economy, and giving those dollars to wealthy private academies… We still await a longterm sustainable solution to the transportation crisis, not band-aid patches that simply steal funds from other critical needs… Finally, this budget throws 4,500 seniors out of nursing homes, reduces respite hours for caregivers and reduces salaries for first responders and teachers.”

    Conservatives in Richmond continue to insist that a budget that leaves so many behind and fails to fix our urgent needs is good for Virginia. As we have highlighted throughout the week, the conservative budget is balanced on the backs of Virginia families. It fails to fund real transportation solutions. It cuts care for our seniors. It steals federal money designated to help Virginians get out of the housing crisis and tragically underfunds our students and schools.

    We cannot allow conservatives in Richmond to pretend that corporate tax loopholes are more important than the needs of Virginia families. We cannot allow them to push a cuts-only approach that doesn’t have real answers to our needs and leaves so many of our neighbors behind. Our representatives on both sides of the aisle must work together to find real and solvent solutions to our budget challenges. We can’t accept a conservative budget that passes the buck.

    Get the Facts:

    • McDonnell’s transportation proposals would result in “decades of austerity for public education, universities, safety net programs and state troopers,” and, even if enacted, would not meet Virginia’s road maintenance needs. Previous failures to meet maintenance costs have resulted in $2.8 billion in construction budget shortfalls since 2005. (Roanoke Times, December 12, 2011)
    • Virginia ranks 7th in the country in per capita income, but 47th in per capita spending on transportation. The reason for such a large imbalance is because the majority of Virginia’s transportation funding comes from the fuel tax which currently sits at just 17 cents per gallon. However, the gas tax would be “35 cents today had it been indexed for inflation.” (Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, Daily Press, December 9, 2011)
    • “‘I voted against the proposed budget because it did not fund education at the appropriate level,’ he [State Senator Mark Herring] added… Herring noted that the budget on the table would have kept the average per-pupil funding in Virginia’s schools to below 2007 levels, and that public education took a huge blow in the last two-year budget cycle with $1.6 billion in cuts.” (Leesburg Today, February 25, 2012)
    • Virginia loses $12.5 billion in revenue a year through credits and giveaways that receive little-to-no scrutiny and accountability. (JLARC)
    • According to the Department of Justice, direct state payments in the National Mortgage Settlement were intended to provide “fund housing counselors, legal aid and other similar public programs determined by the state attorneys general.” (Department of Justice February 9, 2012)
    • “Medicaid cuts will also have an impact on nursing homes, because 61 percent of those residents in the state are on Medicaid. The Virginia Health Care Association, which advocates for nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, is asking legislators for an additional $15 million a year, to restore $5 a day from the average of $13.22 that nursing homes lose on Medicaid residents. Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia would lose $371,000 a year in the governor’s budget.” (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)
    • “In his two-year budget, Gov. Bob McDonnell proposes cutting [‘safety net’ health services] by 2 percent starting July 1 and by 50 percent starting July 1, 2013.” (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)
    • “The governor’s budget also withholds inflation payments to Medicaid, the federal- and state-supported health care program for low-income Virginians. The flat reimbursements are expected to have an impact on hospitals, community health clinics and nursing homes, because of the large caseloads of Medicaid patients they serve. Those health agencies’ officials say they already are losing money on Medicaid patients, because reimbursements don’t cover costs.” (Virginian-Pilot, February 17, 2012)