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House Dems: Need to make sure state budget funds core functions

House Democrats offered measured reactions to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget proposal as outlined during the Joint Finance Committee meeting Monday morning.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to see the complete budget and not just the pieces that have been released by the governor over the past few weeks. This budget deserves a thorough review to ensure that essential state services including education, law enforcement, health care, and transportation are properly funded,” said Minority Leader David J.Toscano.

House Democrats reiterated the concerns expressed during last year’s budget debate that the governor’s transportation initiatives will be funded at the expense of essential state services like education. “While we need to review the details of the budget,” said Toscano, “the governor’s initial proposals appear to divert nearly $110 million dollars from critical funding needs in the areas of education and public safety, and impose serious financial demands on localities at a time of severe fiscal stress. Those pressures will ultimately affect the services Virginia citizens use in their hometowns and the taxes they pay to maintain them.”

“Our children must be prepared for a 21st-century economy, and that begins with a world-class education from pre-kindergarten through college. We will scrutinize every line in this budget to ensure that education dollars aren’t being diverted to other areas such as road funding,” said Caucus Chairman Mark Sickles. “We need to move the state forward with serious, sustainable transportation proposals that don’t come at the expense of our kids and schools.”

“This budget is a starting point for a conversation that will take place in the upcoming legislative session,” said Del. Ken Plum, Caucus Chairman Emeritus. “Last session, House Democrats fought to restore proposed cuts to education, sheriffs, and health care services. We are prepared to fight to ensure that these priorities, the priorities of all Virginians, are reflected in the final budget – and that it won’t hurt the working families that are vital to keeping Virginia’s economy strong.”