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Today is his last day, and I’d like to thank Peter Lifson for all of his help during this session. Peter adds his name to a long list of outstanding William & Mary interns I’ve had the privilege of working with while in Richmond. Go Tribe!

House Republican Leaders Denounce Offensive Comments, Call for Bob FitzSimmonds to Resign

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RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) issued the following statement Thursday:

"The comments made recently by Bob FitzSimmonds are offensive and have no place in mainstream society or our political discourse. These comments are not representative of the House Republican Caucus or the Republican Party of Virginia. They do not reflect our values or principles and they are deeply inconsistent with the tone and tenor we believe is appropriate for public debate. Mr. FitzSimmonds should resign from his position as Treasurer of the Republican Party of Virginia and we call on him to do so immediately.

"Having worked with Barbara Comstock for a number of years, we have tremendous respect for her and all that she has accomplished. She has and will continue to be a tenacious fighter for Virginia women and families."

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Bloxom Wins, ObamaCare Loses

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Statement of Speaker William J. Howell on Special Election Results in House District 100

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Tuesday on Rob Bloxom’s victory in the 100th House District Special Election:

“Tonight, citizens of Virginia spoke loud and clear. They overwhelmingly elected Rob Bloxom as Delegate in Virginia’s 100th District and adamantly rejected ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion in Virginia.

“I congratulate Rob and his team on their victory. They ran a strong campaign focused on the issues that matter to Virginians. Rob will be a tremendous Delegate for the people of Eastern Virginia, and I look forward to having him on the team. He will get straight to work in the House of Delegates.

“Rob’s opponent proudly and vocally ran on President Obama’s agenda, ObamaCare and implementing Medicaid expansion in Virginia. The citizens of the 100th House District made it absolutely clear tonight that they oppose ObamaCare and ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

“Governor McAuliffe and General Assembly Democrats have wrongly injected Medicaid expansion into the budget debate. Because they know Medicaid expansion does not stand on its merits, they have decided to use the budget as a bargaining chip in order to implement ObamaCare in Virginia. The results tonight show that Virginians think that is wrong.

“Governor McAuliffe and General Assembly Democrats should stop using the budget as a bargaining chip, drop their demands for Medicaid expansion and let Virginia pass a clean budget bill.”

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Update from Richmond on House Budget

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Last week was Budget week at the General Assembly. In addition to addressing over 2,000 pieces of legislation this session, the General Assembly must pass a biennial budget for 2014-2016.

The House unveiled its budget, which invests in the core functions of government – education, transportation, public safety, and helping those who can’t help themselves. The House budget also puts an emphasis on K-12 education, higher education, and mental health services, while holding the line on new taxes.

Transportation

With an increase in $1.5 billion from the 2013-2014 budget, the proposed House budget includes $12 billion in new transportation monies. This is a substantial increase to help improve our transportation infrastructure.

With passage of the transportation-funding bill during last year’s General Assembly session, it is crucial that we allocate new transportation monies responsibly. In both the new Secretary of Transportation’s and VDOT’s budgets are language amendments that focus on congestion relief, safety measures, and economic development. Additionally, HB2 (lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=141&t…l=hb2), which I co-sponsored, would create a process to prioritize proposed transportation projects with congestion mitigation being the most important criteria. Combining these priorities will bring accountability to how we spend transportation monies.

Funding for Education

The House has taken substantial steps in addressing the needs our Commonwealth has for K-12 education. The House budget includes $531 million in new spending for public education, for a total of $14.2 billion. These increases in public education funding account for 25 percent of new spending in the state budget. With this increase in spending for K-12 education, Fairfax and Prince William counties will receive over $1.1 billion in direct aid.

Our teachers in Northern Virginia often need additional help in the classroom. The House budget made significant improvements to the Cost of Competing Adjustments (COCA) payments and has included over $3.3 million dollars for Fairfax and Prince William counties. These additional COCA payments will help with support staff for our teachers. This strong investment in our K-12 education, combined with the reforms over the last several years, will give teachers the additional tools and resources they need to provide the highest level of education.

Northern Virginia produces stellar, college-ready students, yet all too often I hear about students being denied admission to an in-state institution. I have continuously fought both for an increase in the acceptance percentage of in-state students to our public colleges and universities as well as an increase in total number of slots. I am pleased to inform you that the House budget added $6.2 million to create 1,700 additional new in-state slots at William & Mary, Virginia Tech, James Madison, and the University of Virginia.

Tuition increases for the last two years, at 4 and 4.7%, are some of the lowest tuition increases in the last decade. The House has continued its commitment to mitigate increased tuition costs at all of Virginia’s institutions of higher learning by allocating $20 million in new funding. Our goal is to continue this trend so more Virginia students can — affordably — attend the Commonwealth’s great schools.

Mental Health Reform

The House budget has taken significant steps to address mental health care needs here in the Commonwealth. The House budget provides $7.8 million in state and federal funds for 50 new intellectual disability (ID) and 15 new developmental disability (DD) waiver slots. In addition to the $90.6 million in state and federal funds for waiver slots already proposed, this brings the total number of funded slots to 750 ID and 65 DD waiver slots.

The House budget provides $48 million for mental health treatment, intervention, and access services. These monies will create 17 therapeutic (crisis) drop-off centers across the state. These centers will provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals with serious mental illness.

The Commonwealth has many successful community-based organizations that provide cost-effective mental health care to thousands of uninsured Virginians. Realizing the benefit of these organizations, the House budget provides an additional $6 million for our free clinics and community health centers to expand health care services across the state.

Health Care Providers

Due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), our hospitals are facing Medicare and Disproportionate Share Hospital payment cuts. The General Assembly cannot control the federal Medicare policy; it can only control the Medicaid dollars for which we are responsible. With inflation adjustments taken into account, the House budget appropriates $118.6 million in additional Medicaid payments to our hospitals. In addition to helping our hospitals, the House budget provides more than $111 million in Medicaid payments for our nursing homes.

While the House has put forth a responsible budget, all of this is in jeopardy because the Senate has injected Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid into their budget. They are putting in danger funding for teachers, firefighters, police officers, state employees, hospitals, colleges and others so they can get Obamacare expansion passed. We need to improve the services for current Medicaid recipients before we inflate the system by increasing costs by hundreds of millions of your tax dollars. It is my hope that the House and Senate can come to an agreement in a timely manner to avoid a budget impasse.

You can read the budget by clicking, leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/sb2014.

If I can ever be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (703) 815-1201 or at DelTHugo@house.virginia.gov.

Concerned Women for America

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Earlier today I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives of CWA, an outstanding organization led by my dear friend and constituent Penny Nance.

Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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Thanks to Jackie Darling and other members of VAND who stopped by today. Learn more about VAND – bit.ly/1hvCy9u

I just had the honor of meeting an American hero. William H. ‘Bill’ Muehleib, a Pearl Harbor survivor, as a guest of Delegate DeSteph.

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