Nicole Pasia | June 28, 2021
Last week Governor Ralph Northam called the General Assembly to meet in extraordinary session on August 2. This session has two goals: to fill vacant judicial positions and to allocate $ 4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act relief funds.
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Governor Northam and legislative leaders say improving public health is one of the the five priorities for funding. Other goals include supporting small businesses, helping workers, modernizing public schools and expanding broadband connectivity. With regard to public health specifically, federal funds will:
“Improve long underfunded local and state public health services, boost affordable housing and help Virginians meet the cost of public services.” “
Federal funds are timely for Virginia. State revenues increase and the state unemployment rate decreases to 4.5% in May, 4.0 percentage points lower than at the same time last year. Heads of state see funds as an investment. A joint statement from Northam and the legislative leaders states:
“This is a unique opportunity to invest in the long term future of Virginia. We intend to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, with full respect for fiduciary guidelines. We reject calls to deny these federal dollars, and we support the law’s prohibition of cutting state taxes to replace federal dollars. We seize this rare opportunity and choose to invest.
State lawmakers voiced their health policy priorities long before Governor Northam’s announcement. At the Virginia State of Reform Health Policy Conference in May 2021, Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, member of the Education and Health Commission, Talk about develop a more comprehensive care system.
“When someone comes to us and tells us they need help, we shouldn’t just qualify them for Medicaid. We should see, “Do they need help with education?” Do they need help finding accommodation? Are they in a safe place? ‘ There is no reason they have to apply to another silo [for other types of assistance]. “