Friday, February 27, 2015

Statement of House Republican Leadership on Adjournment of 2015 Regular Session

The following is a release from the House Republican leadership:

RICHMOND, VA - Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) and Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued the following statement Friday:

"The 2015 General Assembly session has been a successful and productive one for the people of the Commonwealth. We adjourned early for the first time in 15 years, adopted a balanced budget ahead of schedule and offered positive solutions on the issues that matter most to Virginians.

"The budget we adopted spends $1 billion less from the general fund than last year's original budget. It eliminates more than $30 million in debt and $11 million in fees proposed by the Governor and rejects Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. We also made strategic investments to make college more affordable, provided pay raises for teachers, state police officers and state employees, and strengthened the existing healthcare safety net for our neediest citizens.

"At the start of the year, the House of Delegates pledged to focus on the issues that matter most to Virginians. We spent the session passing conservative solutions to create good jobs, improve our schools, and make college more accessible and affordable for middle class families.The House also led the effort to enact stronger ethics laws that will improve transparency in government. We passed legislation to aid victims of sexual assault, protect students on college campuses and combat human trafficking. We passed legislation to streamline and simplify our transportation funding system.

"Completing our work early saves taxpayer dollars and illustrates that Richmond can rise above the partisan gridlock so easily visible in Washington. While Congress is at a stand still, under Republican leadership the House has worked diligently and efficiently to finish ahead of schedule."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Slate Magazine Claims Virginia House Republicans Hate the Poor

Every once and a while I like to read what the liberals are saying on various political topics. Well, you can imagine my interest was piqued when I came across Alec MacGillis article in slate magazine,“Virginia’s False Pride, The state’s Republican Party is proud of keeping its poor uninsured.

This is a standard play from the liberal playbook. When fiscal conservatives question the numbers liberals like MacGillis claim insensitivity to the poor. Well, worse then insensitivity MacGillis claims Virginia Republicans are proud of hurting the poor. Imagine that.

First some background. The ACA or Obama care cut part of medicaid that went to hospitals with the provision that states would be obligated to expanded Medicaid. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the Feds could not compel the states to expand the popular welfare program. However, the cuts to our Hospitals remained in place.

Isn't it ironic that it was Obama that first cut medicaid, and yet MacGills does not claim Obama hates the poor, rather Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates do.

Anyway to make up the difference the Feds came up with an idea to bribe the states with the state's own money. The deal, uncle Sam said we will give you some money back if you go ahead and boost your Medicaid rolls. The Feds even went so far as to refer to it as “free money”. What chutzpah!

Well, it is not free money; once the state signs on they are on the hook for eternity. Before the state can fund any other program they must first pay the medicaid bill. The Feds offer the teaser rate of 10%. That is the state will 'only' have to pay 10 percent, sounds like a good deal right. Wrong! If you consider that medical cost are out of control 10% will become a budget buster in a matter of a few years. And medicaid is going broke so the odds of the state’s share being only 10 percent for long is slim. It is conceivable that by 2020 the state will be stuck with a bill it can’t pay without a major, or I should say several major tax hikes. Expanding medicaid would ultimately force Virginians into paying Maryland style tax rates.

The fact is Medicaid is an ever-expanding costly welfare program. For example Virginia’s Medicaid spending even without expansion has increased 133 percent since 2007. Medicaid spending now makes up nearly 20 percent of the state's budget. In fact it is one of the fastest growing obligations the state has. So schools and roads will have to compete for state funding with Medicaid. However, medicaid will get first dibs on all money coming into the state treasury. Future Legislatures can cut roads, cut schools, raise taxes, but can't can't medicaid.

Medicaid expansion is the Holy Grail for liberals like MacGillis. In one swoop it increases welfare and guarantees tax increases for years to come. And anyone who opposes such a move hates the poor.

He makes a couple other points that I would challenge. MacGillis mentioned the famed “Virginia Way”, that is Virginia's tradition of working across the aisle to get things done. He cited the fact that 3 Republicans in the state senate supported Medicaid expansion. To MacGillis these 3 Republicans are heroes, (presumably who don’t hate the poor) who bucked the GOP House and stood for Bipartisanship and for the Virginia way.

Governor McAuliffe brought his Washington experience to Virginia. He and his allies refused to discuss a budget that did not include Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. In other words expand a welfare program- Medicaid, or shut down the state government. Those 3 senate Republicans MacGillis mentioned did not agree with McAuliffe’s shut down strategy.

McAuliffe was willing to turn Richmond into Washington, shut down the state government all to expand a welfare program which is going broke. Fortunately a Democrat state Senator, Phil Puckett, resigned and the Republicans took over the state senate. In a matter of days Virginia got a budget and the state government remained open. Of course MacGillis left out these details when talking about the famed Virginia way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Senate passes Del. Rob Bell’s “Tebow Bill”

The following is a release from the Republican Party of Virginia:

RICHMOND, VA - The Senate of Virginia on Tuesday passed Delegate Rob Bell’s House Bill 1626, also known as the “Tebow Bill.” HB 1626 would allow schools to permit homeschooled students to participate in competitive extracurricular activities like sports, forensics and band. The legislation has already passed the House of Delegates. Bell said Tuesday he would accept the Senate amendments and send the bill to Governor McAuliffe’s desk for his signature.

“For years I have fought to give homeschooled students fair access to extracurricular activities in public schools. This concept is endorsed by 29 other states and is widely supported by the public,” said Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle). “I am very excited the Senate moved this bill forward. I will accept the Senate amendment and send the bill to Governor McAuliffe’s desk for his signature.”

House Bill 1626 would give local school boards the option of allowing homeschooled students to participate in school sports and other extracurricular activities. In order to participate, students must be receiving home instruction in a manner compliant with state law, be able to demonstrate two consecutive years of academic progress, be under the age of 19, and be compliant with all immunization, disciplinary and eligibility requirements. Students are only allowed to participate in the school district in which they live.

“Fundamentally, this bill is about opportunity. This is about giving the over 32,000 homeschoolers in Virginia the opportunity to participate in school sports, clubs and group activities. This is about letting parents decide how to design the optimal educational path for their children,” said Bell.

For the summary, full text and history of HB 1626, click here.