With the special session looming and legislators soon voting on the budget for the commonwealth, the principles between Democrats and Republicans could not be more different.
While Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Republicans refuse to compromise on key funding issues for our public schools and health care infrastructure in our communities, Virginia Democrats are fighting this special session to secure generational investments in our children’s and Virginians’ futures.
Our budget will invest in Virginia’s public schools, prepare students for good-paying jobs of the future in the clean energy, health and education sectors, and support hard-working teachers. Through teacher pay raises, additional funding for critical support staff, and investments in early childhood education, Democrats have once again reaffirmed their commitment to the public school system and Virginia’s students.
Virginia is a state where we look after our neighbors, and that is exactly what Democrats are doing with their budget.
Not only will our budget address the long-standing needs of our public schools, but it will also address the mental health care crisis Virginians are facing. By addressing the health care employment crisis and investing in education initiatives for nurses and teachers and expanding capacity in state behavioral health institutions, Democrats are ensuring that taking care of Virginians’ health is our number one priority.
The Democrats’ budget will also provide the necessary relief for everyday Virginians struggling to make ends meet by easing tax burdens while still providing necessary community investments.
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The future of the commonwealth’s economy depends on the health, wellness, educational preparedness, and equal opportunity for each and every resident.
In a stark difference, this session Virginia Republicans have launched attack after attack on Virginia’s public schools, teachers and students. They have repeatedly threatened to strip funds from our children’s future and their budget is proof of their true intentions.
The Youngkin-House budget cuts hundreds of millions in funding for public education, including gutting teacher pay raises by 20% and slashing tens of millions in funding for early childhood education–not to mention several proposals that siphon funds from traditionally underfunded school systems and remove any initiative to promote equity.
The Youngkin-House budget also includes millions of cuts to successful and proven programs such as the Virginia Mental Health Access Project — an innovative program that connects children with mental health services — and even slashed more than $10 million in funding for permanent supportive housing, a program that provides housing and wraparound services, allowing individuals experiencing mental illness to live in community-based settings.
The health of our children and Virginians should be a bipartisan issue. Instead, Republicans have decided to gut this crucial funding to fund their far-right agenda.
But make no mistake, when it comes to fully funding public education and investments in health and behavioral health care infrastructure — Virginia Democrats will not budge.
Susan Swecker is chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.