Thank you for your letter today.
I continue to believe last October’s federal government shutdown was an affront to the taxpayers and our federal workforce, and it represented a self-inflicted wound that caused additional damage to our fragile economic recovery. I appreciate the spirit of your letter today, and would remind you that, here in Virginia, we repeatedly have demonstrated an ability to work together to find Virginia-centric solutions that are preferable to any top-down, federal approach.
For example, Virginia had an abysmal program for children’s health insurance before I took office as Governor in 2002. By many accounts, Virginia’s SCHIP program was one of the worst in the nation. As a result, Virginia forfeited tens of millions of unspent health care dollars to the federal government. When I took office, I pledged to turn the children’s health insurance program around, and we worked closely with many of you in the General Assembly to design a Virginia-centric alternative to get it done. As a result, all of us shared in the success when we extended coverage through our FAMIS program to 98% of Virginia’s eligible children. In fact, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation saluted Virginia’s turnaround of this program as a national model.
Likewise, in 2004, our Administration worked with the legislature to forge a bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive budget and tax reform plan that got Virginia’s fiscal house in order. Those discussions required the Assembly to move into legislative overtime beyond the regular session, but our combined efforts succeeded in preserving the Commonwealth’s Triple A bond rating and earned Virginia the distinction of being the nation’s best managed state and the best state for business.
As we demonstrated both in 2002 and 2004, it is possible for our elected leaders serving in Richmond to work together to resolve issues such as this. I urge each of you to recommit your best efforts to work together to find a consensus solution that moves Virginia, and its families, forward.
Mark R. Warner