I have a number of updates to share this week regarding the Special Session and the budget, acknowledging all of the commemorations for the month of April, and reflecting on community events. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and staying informed about the current happenings around Virginia Senate District 10.
Special Session and the Budget
On Monday, the Governor unexpectedly called the General Assembly back to Richmond for Special Session, but because the House and Senate budget bills are still in negotiation, no business was addressed that day. At present, the assigned House and Senate conferees have not yet met to discuss the points of distinction between the two proposed budget bills. The difference between the two bills is about $3 billion that must be reconciled. The one-day Special Session cost taxpayers between $40,000 - 50,000 and was unnecessary since the budget bills were not even presented and will not be presented until the conferees have completed their discussions. At this point, we do not yet have a timeline for the next convening of the General Assembly in Richmond.
As we wait for the budget conferees to complete their work, we do know that the contrast in priorities could not be more clear: the Senate budget funds long-neglected state services while the House budget cuts funding and threatens our infrastructure, public education, and access to quality healthcare. A detailed comparison of the budget bills is available through this document prepared by The Commonwealth Institute. Here are some highlights:
National Community College Month: The work of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is close to my heart; I spent nearly 30 years working in higher education prior to joining the Virginia General Assembly, and 18 of those years were within the VCCS. With 23 colleges under the VCCS umbrella, students across the Commonwealth have benefited from programs like G3, FastForward, and Transfer Virginia. Community colleges continue to be at the forefront of addressing Virginia’s critical workforce needs. VCCS institutions also help first generation students, veterans, adult learners and many others achieve their higher education degrees by serving as the on-ramp to Virginia’s four year colleges through articulation agreements that ease the process of credit transfers between colleges.
Child Abuse Prevention Month: In FY 2021, over 52,000 children were reported as possible victims of abuse or neglect in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and Families Forward Virginia have created child abuse prevention toolkits with tips on how to prevent abuse and neglect, teach children about bodily autonomy, how to manage stress, combat bullying, and more. Additionally, VDSS operates a statewide Child Protective Services (CPS) Hotline 24/7: 1-800-552-7096.
National Library Week
April 3-9 celebrates National Library Week, a time to highlight the essential role that libraries, librarians, and library staff play in our communities. Libraries have always played an essential role in my life, whether they have been the public libraries of the cities in which I’ve lived, the school libraries that served my school, or the amazing academic and research libraries of the colleges and universities at which I’ve had the privilege of spending time. We are currently seeing our libraries come under public pressure and attack, with calls for book bans and purging of materials. Such attacks are not new, but they are concerning. Libraries provide access and resources for the public; they are archives of our history and culture; and they preserve knowledge for generations. I hope that we each take this week as an opportunity to celebrate our array of library systems and all that they offer to us.
Chesterfield County Democratic Committee
On Tuesday evening, I spoke with members of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee (CCDC) and provided highlights of the 2022 General Assembly Session. Our conversation included legislative successes and priorities. I also provided an update on budget negotiations and my outlook on the new Senate districts post-redistricting.
Georgia Southern University Alumni Lecture Series
Last night, I also spoke virtually with students in Georgia Southern University’s English Department. It was a pleasure to reconnect with my alma mater and to discuss with students the opportunities that degrees in English, the humanities, and liberal arts can provide.
Connecting With My Office
My staff continue to hold meetings with constituents via Zoom or by phone. You can sign up for a meeting with either of my staff members with our easy scheduling app: