Senate Democrats claim victory in budget deliberations
Senate Democrats are claiming success in a budget vote by the Finance Committee that provides for more funding for public schools, families who have suffered during the foreclosure crisis, and Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We made this budget a lot better in terms of health and human services and public education. It was a cooperative effort with members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Finance Committee staff,” said Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax).
Democrats fought — and will keep fighting — to make sure that residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads aren’t hit with tolls that will bust family budgets.
“We have significantly increased funding for public education and are restoring cuts to services for people who desperately need them. In addition, this budget brings $300 million in toll relief for the Dulles rail project,” said Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax).
“I am pleased that in this budget, there will be no tolls until 2014. It is unfair that for the first time citizens are going to have to pay tolls years before improvements are even begin. Hampton Roads is ground zero for Virginia becoming a toll-heavy state. This is not a done deal, and I will keep fighting,” said Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth).
Democrats won $5.9 million of funding to help keep 4,500 disabled and elderly citizens in their communities and out of nursing homes. Funding for daycare for at-risk children was restored to $2.4 million. The service that helps Virginians with physical disabilities will now receive $870,000 to help them find employment.
The improved budget also capitalizes the Housing Trust fund, which will assist families who suffered during the foreclosure crisis, a key Democratic priority.
Senate Democrats also restored the following cuts proposed by the governor: cuts to teen pregnancy prevention, employment support services for disabled Virginians, toll mitigation for the Downtown and Midtown tunnels in Hampton Roads and the Dulles rail project. Democrats also added over $18 million of cost-of-competing money for Northern Virginia public schools.