By Virginia State Delegate Rob Krupicka (D-45)
Last week the General Assembly went back to Richmond for a special session to vote on and pass a budget. Anyone who saw my email on Tuesday will know that I was not happy with the budget that passed. Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate used the resignation of Senator Phillip Puckett and Eric Cantor’s loss to strong-arm the rest of the Republican Party to insist on including their anti-Medicaid expansion language in the budget.
In addition to losing Virginia $2 billion of our Federal tax dollars, the budget passed by the General Assembly deeply cuts, and in some cases completely eliminates, money for both K-12 and higher education expenses as well as pay raises for teachers. It also makes drastic reductions on mental health spending with large cuts on ID and DD waivers and removes $8 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. I believe it is important for Virginia to pass a budget on time, but I could not support the drastic cuts made to such important areas including education, mental health and affordable housing as well as the refusal to expand healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians.
I and some of my fellow colleagues sent a letter to the Governor’s office this week asking him to consider vetoing the budget proposal, or a line-item veto on certain amendments to remove the anti-Medicaid expansion measures in the proposal.
The Governor has until midnight this coming, Sunday, June 22 to decide if he will sign the budget or put forward any amendments or vetoes. I’ll be headed back to Richmond on Monday along with the rest of the House of Delegates in order to act on any gubernatorial amendments.
In happier news, last week the Governor signed HB930, my and Delegate Greason’s SOL reform bill. The ceremony was held at Newton-Lee Elementary School and featured a riveting re-telling of the history of the bill put on by Newton-Lee’s 4th graders called “The Passage of HB930.” I am proud of the work accomplished in the passing of HB930. This bill is an important first-step in rethinking benchmark testing and how we ensure our students are learning the skills they need to be successful in school and in life.
Continuing with my work on testing reform, I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed by Speaker Howell to the SOL Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee is to examine and make recommendations to further improve and reform Virginia’s end-of-year testing process.
As Governor McAuliffe stated, “Innovation and accountability are critical components in building a public education system that meets the demands of a 21st Century economy the challenge for the SOL Innovation Committee will be to chart a course for reform that builds on the strengths of the current SOL system while creating more room for the rich, creative and innovative learning experiences that will prepare all Virginia students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in a global economy.”
I am honored and excited to take on this challenge.
On Tuesday the Commission on Youth hosted a workgroup, chaired by Delegate Chris Peace, where we talked about how to improve the quality of early leaning and childcare programs. I was happy to play a role in organizing the event and pleased with the bipartisan spirit as well as the strong support from the Governors office.
Over the past few months, I’ve talked about my efforts to “ban the box” in Virginia. Ban the Box is a movement that’s been gaining traction across the country that prevents employers at state agencies from discriminating against potential employees based solely on their criminal history by removing the question from job application forms. In cities and states where it has been enacted, Ban the Box has been shown to be effective at increasing the number of ex-offenders who find employment, reducing recidivism rates and has not created any significant increase in the time or resources of employers during the job hiring process.
Unfortunately, legislation to ban the box in Virginia was unsuccessful. So I alongside many of my colleagues in the House and Senate have written a letter to Governor McAuliffe asking him to ban the box through executive order. I believe this is the right thing to do and Virginia should be a leader on this issue. I look forward to his response.
It remains my privilege to serve Northern Virginia and the 45th District in the House of Delegates. If you have any questions, concerns or legislative ideas please feel free to contact my office at DelRKrupicka@house.virginia.gov or (571) 357-4762.