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The House and Senate released their proposed two-year budgets over the weekend. Hampton Roads stands to benefit from many statewide budget proposals, including increased spending for K-12, higher education, corrections and mental health initiatives. I am pleased to know the budget also includes funding for three judgeships in the City of Hampton.

To view the individual sections of the budget, along with the filed budget amendments and committee reports, click here
Wednesday morning began with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus having breakfast at the Governor's Mansion; however, the governor was not able to join us. I guess I was fortunate to have Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax sit down next to me. This was a perfect time to discuss a few items affecting our area.

Aubrey Lane, Commonwealth Finance Director, discussed the budget bills coming before the House and the Senate. The House's budget included Medicaid Expansion and the Senate's budget does not. When both budgets pass their respective chambers, the bills will go into conference. 

We have the remaining two weeks to work out the differences. Stay tuned!
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) held a post crossover press conference Monday. The Caucus works to improve the economic, educational, political and social conditions of the underprivileged. The VLBC priorities that passed from each chamber include:
  • Strengthening the public education system for all Virginians,
  • working to make higher education affordable for all Virginians,
  • reforming Virginia’s criminal justice system to ensure all Virginians are treated fairly and ensuring that our communities are safe,
  • expanding access to and improving quality of healthcare for all Virginians
These priorities are awaiting consideration from the Senate before the governor can act on them.
It was an honor to speak to the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Prince William County and Northern Virginia Chapters during their legislative day at the Capitol. Their call to action includes the following issues and concerns:
  • Racial and Social Justice
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Gender Equity
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Diversity in the Judicial System
  • Virginia Equal Pay Act
  • Seat belts on school buses
  • Gun Control
  • Disparate disciplinary actions in the classroom.
Able R US, a family advocacy group from Hampton stopped by to visit me this week. They were here to support Medicaid Expansion as well as increased Intellectual Disability/Developmental Disability (ID/DD) Waivers which allow for community integration and choice. Currently, over 11,000 people with developmental disabilities are on a waiting list for community-based services. Receiving a waiver slot will enable an individual who needs developmental services and support to live a life that is fully integrated in the community. They also support a reduction in the ID/DD waiver waiting list.
It was a pleasure to welcome our visitors from Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board (CSB). They came to voice their opposition of SB878, which would mandate that CSBs provide mental health and substance abuse services in correctional facilities at the request of the Sheriff or superintendent. Members also spoke on some of their budget priorities such as Medicaid Expansion and an increased budget funding to address critical needs across the behavioral health and developmental services system.  
This week at the Hampton Roads Caucus meeting, the staff from The Building Trades Academy (BTA) joined us in our discussion. The academy is a nonprofit that benefits the Tidewater region by providing hands on training and job placement to low income residents. After its inception in 1978, BTA has seen over 3,000 students who were trained and placed in full-time careers. If the budget amendment submitted by Sen. DeSteph passes, funding for BTA can be used to help residents in other localities, including Hampton.

For more information about The Building Trades Academy, click here.
Created by high school students across the Commonwealth, Virginians have a chance to vote on the next license plate design, which is focused on ending distracted driving. Click here to cast your vote!

As always, it is an honor to serve as your voice of the 92nd House District. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.

All the best, 

Delegate Jeion (ja-WAN) Ward
Authorized by J Ward for Delegate
Copyright © 2018 Jeion Ward for Delegate, All rights reserved.

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