2012 Session Wrap-Up
It has been an emotional roller-coaster these past few weeks in Richmond. Since my last newsletter, we have seen a radical retreat by the Governor and Republican legislators on their social agenda that took so much fire, not only in Virginia but nationwide, from late night television, to editorial Boards in big cities and small towns.
A silent protest drew over 1,000 demonstrators from across the State to the Capitol to fight the ultrasound bill, the ‘personhood’ bill and a bill that would deny low-income women Medicaid coverage for abortions in cases of gross and debilitating fetal abnormalities. I am proud to be among the voices that spoke out against this assault on women. The Senate Democrats defeated two of these three bills and forced the Governor to call for a revised ultra-sound bill that did not require an invasive procedure.
Make no mistake, however, mandating a medically unnecessary procedure places the government between a woman and her doctor and demeans women. On the floor of the Senate, I reminded my Republican colleagues that telling doctors how to practice medicine is not limited government, a mantra that many of them campaigned on but abandoned when it came time to actually govern.
Other social legislation passed that will make the Commonwealth less safe and less just. The General Assembly removed the one-hand gun a month ban and passed a law that now permits State-funded private adoption agencies to discriminate against gay parents. It is more important than ever that we get the message out about this extreme Republican agenda. Please help me do this by donating any amount you can on line.
I will be returning to Richmond on March 21st for a special session to adopt a State budget. I have made it clear to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that I will not vote for a budget unless it reflects the values and priorities of the voters in the 31st Senate District. I believe this message has been heard.
In the budget, I am insisting that K-12 public education, safety net programs such as community-based health centers, funding to capitalize a Housing Trust Fund, transit money for rail to Dulles, and services for low-income children and the elderly be adequately funded. You should know that the Republican Senate Finance budget proposes to fund K-12 education at $400M less than we spent five years ago, in 2007. However, school enrollment is up and we are seeing the consequences of this erosion of funding. In 2007, only two states had smaller class sizes than Virginia. Today, 40 states have smaller class sizes.
Moreover, funding for the Northern Virginia Cost of Competing for school support personnel had been entirely removed by the Governor and partially restored by the Senate Republicans. I will work for full restoration of this cut. Additionally, the Republicans attempted to put public school teachers on short-term contacts, subject to dismissal without cause. Although the Democrats defeated this measure, these actions taken together represent an agenda to undermine our public school system. Unfortunately, I expect this misguided agenda will continue in various forms and I will fight it every step of the way.
I will continue to keep you posted as progress continues on the adoption of a budget. To those who contacted my office during the session, we enjoyed hearing from you. I invite all of you to follow me on Twitter at @BarbaraFavola and on Facebook. You can contact my office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-835-4845.