Republican whining won’t hide Virginians’ support for commonsense solutions
Richmond, Va.—In his speech to the General Assembly last night, Governor Northam highlighted policy priorities that enjoy broad public support from Virginia families. Republicans, eschewing their bipartisan rhetoric of the past week, seem to have learned no lessons from their crushing electoral defeat and are racing to further marginalize themselves by roundly condemning their constituents’ priorities.
“The only partisans here are Republican leadership who are so entrenched in their out-of-step views that they still thumb their noses at policy solutions with bipartisan appeal even after their electoral shellacking,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl. “In fact, they seem to be ignoring their own support for bipartisan solutions highlighted last night, including raising teacher pay, tackling the growing student loan debt crisis, and raising Virginia’s lowest in the country felony threshold. Republicans’ whining is a distraction from the work of the General Assembly to make life better for Virginia families.”
Student Loan Debt
Governor Northam last night highlighted two proposals to tackle the growing student loan debt crisis, proposals which were greeted with a bipartisan standing ovation from the legislature. The Borrowers’ Bill of Rights and Student Loan Ombudsman enjoy widespread support from Virginia families. A 2016 poll conducted by Progress Virginia Education Fund found 76% of Virginians, including 74% of Republicans, support the Bill of Rights while 68% of Virginians and 66% of Republicans support establishing a Student Loan Ombudsman. In 2017, the Borrowers Bill of Rights passed the Virginia State Senate
Governor Northam and the 15 new Democratic members of the General Assembly campaigned unapologetically on closing the coverage gap to expand health care coverage to up to 400,000 new Virginians. Those candidates overwhelming won their elections and subsequent polling research demonstrates that Medicaid expansion remains widely popular. A poll conducted by the Democratic Party of Virginia in Republican-leaning districts found that 60% of Virginians in conservative areas still support expanding Medicaid so that everyone who gets sick can see a doctor without worrying about the financial repercussions.
Raising Teacher Pay
Bringing Virginia’s teacher salaries up to the national average has been a long-term bipartisan priority. In fact, the General Assembly just last year approved a budget with bipartisan support that gave Virginia’s teachers a 2% pay raise. Also in 2017, the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation setting a goal to raise Virginia’s teacher salaries to at or above the national average.
Universal Background Checks
According to a June 2017 Quinnipiac poll, 91% of Virginians and 88% of Republicans support requiring background checks for all gun sales. The House and Senate Republican caucuses appear to make up the entirety of the opposition.
Reproductive Health & Rights
Despite perennial conservative attempts to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship and limit women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, the data shows Virginia families support reproductive rights. 2015 polling conducted by the National Institute for Reproductive Health in partnership with Progress Virginia Education Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia found two thirds of Virginia voters support new legislation to protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion. Seven in ten voters would be more likely to support a candidate who supports laws to improve women’s health access and economic security.