by Ashleigh Crocker
On Friday, June 17, legislators came back to Richmond to debate Governor Glenn Youngkin’s amendments to the state budget. With the threat of a government shut down if they weren’t able to agree and pass something by July 1, legislators got down to business. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly in the newly passed state budget.
The blue wall in the State Senate was able to hold the line and reject an amendment that would have eliminated funding for people on Medicaid who had pregnancies with severe fetal anomalies. Everyone should be able to access abortion for any reason, regardless of their income level or what kind of insurance they have. This particular amendment targeted low-income pregnant people with complicated pregnancies, and we’re thrilled that Democrats in the State Senate shut it down.
Governor Youngkin proposed an amendment that would have changed the terms of a law passed in 2020 to allow incarcerated people to earn credits towards an early release. A similar bill was proposed during the regular legislative session and was rejected, but Youngkin wanted to sneak it in the budget, with no transparency, public input, or accountability. Unfortunately, his plan worked and about 550 inmates who had been told they had earned an early release and would be coming home on July 1 had that hope taken away. These people have done everything they were supposed to do to come home and serve the full sentence for their most serious crimes, but Glenn Youngkin decided that wasn’t good enough. At this point, it seems like cruel and unusual punishment for no reason at all.
Finally, the just plain ugly and racist. Glenn Youngkin sent down an amendment that would take funding reserved for financial aid for undocumented students and instead allocated it towards HBCUs. Both of these funding priorities are critically important, and we have room in the budget to fund both. This wasn’t a situation where we had to pick one over the other. But Glenn Youngkin decided to pit one community against another instead of doing the right thing and funding both. What’s even uglier is that Delegate Barry Knight said the quiet part way outloud and admitted that the governor “would rather preference the historically Black colleges universities as opposed to the #DACA.” There’s no other way to slice it, this is just flat out racist.
Hold Them Accountable
Virginia’s budget process is notoriously opaque and difficult for members of the public to follow. There’s no room for public input or accountability while it’s happening, but we sure as heck can hold legislators accountable for voting for these bad amendments and thank them for holding the line on abortion access. Call your representatives today and tell them what you think of this budget!