General Assembly Update June 2018

After five years of trying, the General Assembly passed a budget last week that includes Medicaid Expansion. 

Once the Federal government approves Virginia's pan, 18-64 years olds who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. This will close the coverage gap for nearly 300,000 Virginians who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid now, but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the federal health insurance marketplace. The plan includes a work requirement in which able-bodied adults under 65 are required to work, seek employment, or participate in job training, education, or community/engagement programs that improve work readiness. Exemptions are provided for children, pregnant women, the aged, disabled, and seriously mentally ill, caregivers of disabled dependents, and individuals working in the TANF VIEW program or SNAP. These requirements are waived in parts of the state with high unemployment.

The budget we adopted invests significant funding in behavioral health and developmental services, education and workforce training, and raises for state employees and teachers. For more details, you can read this summary prepared by the House Appropriations Committee Staff here.
Here are a few highlights about the budget: 
  • Adds $189 million in new general fund resources for behavioral health and developmental services, including $84.1 million for community mental health services and $67 million to expand services for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Includes more than $530 million in general funds for K-12 education, and $131 million for a three percent pay raise for state-supported teachers and support staff, effective July 1, 2019.Adds $1.5 million in support for teacher residency partnerships between schools and universities.
  • Includes $87 million for a two percent pay raise for state and state-supported local employees, and another $38 million for a two percent merit raise for state workers with at least three years of service. The budget also provides $49 million for targeted pay raises for direct care staff at our state behavioral health facilities; corrections officers at our Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice facilities; and marine police and deputy sheriffs.

You can find the "Caboose Budget" Bill (HB 5001) amending the current budget here.

You can find the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget Bill (HB 5002) here.

Governor Northam Signs School Discipline Bills   

n 2016, the Legal Aid Justice Center released an analysis of public school exclusionary discipline data for the 2014-2015 academic year. The results were stark, demonstrating that students of color and students with disabilities were disproportionately suspended and expelled. The data spurred the General Assembly into action, with bills sponsored by Senator Bill Stanley and Delegate Dickie Bell that I was proud to co-sponsor and highlight in an RTD op-ed. But we were unable to reach consensus on how to address the school discipline issue.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Awards Senator McClellan With the 2018 Aggie Wolf Defender of Choice Award. 
At its annual Power of Choice Gala last month, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia awarded me the 2019 Aggie Wolf Defender of Choice Award. The award recognizes a policy maker or legislator who has dedicated their time to defending reproductive freedom.
Unfortunately, because the Senate was in session, I was unable to accept the award in person. However, I was able to FaceTime with the crowd to give my thanks!  
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Senator McClellan with a Free Enterprise Award for Education and Workforce. 
Last month, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce recognized the recipients of its Free Enterprise Award for their support of the principles and initiatives outlined in the Chamber's long-term economic development plan, Blueprint Virginia 2025.
I was one of several legislators recognized with the Education and Workforce Award for our work on SB 349and HB 1125 making several changes to the Virginia's teacher licensure requirements.  For a complete list of Free Enterprise Award recipients, click here.

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