How Much Have We Lost?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Human Face of State Budget Cuts

Today, I attended our Pre-Session Public Hearing at the Fairfax County Government Center with most of the rest of the Northern Virginia Delegation. We heard from about 70 Northern Virginians over the course of about four hours.

Many of the people we heard from were physically or mentally disabled, their family members, or caretakers. Many people struggled through their conditions to simply speak or to relate what they go through on a daily basis, others asked us to sustain funding for Medicaid waivers just so they could have some semblance of a normal life. We heard from an eight-year old with ostogenesis imperfecta and a brain injury who spoke from her wheelchair and had the most incredible smile before, during and after her comments notwithstanding her daily struggle.

We heard from people who work with domestic violence prevention, the youth, and mental health. Person after person with stories.

We heard from the Virginia Autism Project who has struggled for years to attain greater awareness of their daily emotional and financial struggle, and their effort to obtain insurance coverage to be treated the same as other illnesses and conditions.

We heard from the public school communities who spoke about the devasting impact the impending budget cuts are going to have on Fairfax County's children - including my own. They also spoke to the injustice of refusing to rebenchmark the Local Composite Index to give Fairfax County its fair share.

One speaker addressed the state's refusal to deal with our transportation situation and noted that his street had not been resurfaced in 26 years.

Our State Government affects real people's lives every day and today's hearing really put a human face on the situation we are walking into in Richmond. Notwithstanding that, our Governor-Elect has promised to cut another $2 billion from our state budget.

Mt. Vernon Senator Joe Gartlan was a steady voice for many of these people throughout his career. I look forward to fighting for them as well.

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