RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced his final action and signature of House Bill 1700. In a letter to the General Assembly, Governor Northam details his veto of language constraining the funding for a pilot program to distribute long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to low-income women across the Commonwealth.
While the budget signed today reflects many of the priorities Governor Northam laid out for the General Assembly’s consideration earlier this year, it also includes disappointing and out-of-touch provisions that will harm Virginians with respect to fighting climate change, women’s access to reproductive healthcare, and the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement. These provisions will not restrict the governor’s budget development this fall and will be addressed in his introduced budget later this year.
Governor Northam’s full letter detailing his action on the budget is included below.
May 2, 2019
I have completed my review of House Bill 1700. Overall, I am very proud of what we accomplished together. We have achieved many of the priorities I laid out for your consideration in December, and we also moved forward with new achievements during the regular and reconvened sessions.
This year’s budget actions make significant investments in education. We are providing over $200 million in new funding for our public schools, including additional funding for our most at-risk schools, funds for school construction, the largest single-year pay raise for teachers in 15 years and funding for more school counselors. We are also investing in early childhood education and in financial aid for students attending higher education institutions.
This budget invests in critical infrastructure improvements like expanding access to broadband and replacing Central State Hospital. We provide funding for affordable housing and eviction diversion and prevention. We also put additional resources into our cash reserves, helping to protect against future economic downturns.
Importantly, beginning on July 1st, Virginians will no longer face driver’s license suspensions because of a failure to pay court fines and fees. This policy change will help over 600,000 individuals.
While I am pleased with most of this budget, I am extremely disappointed that the General Assembly included several provisions in the budget that will harm Virginians.
First, this budget restricts the Commonwealth’s ability to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a critical avenue for reducing carbon emissions in the Commonwealth and addressing the negative effects of climate change, which is impacting the health and safety of people who live, work, and vacation in our great state. The Department of Environmental Quality recently finalized a regulation to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuel fired power plants by 30 percent over the next decade. While the General Assembly has restricted the Commonwealth from participating in RGGI, I am directing the Department of Environmental Quality to identify ways to implement the regulation and achieve our pollution reduction goals.
Second, this budget restricts the use of state funds for abortions in the case of a gross and totally incapacitating fetal anomaly. While these instances are rare, expecting parents who receive the devastating news that something has gone very wrong with their pregnancy deserve compassion and support. The General Assembly’s action is cruel and out of touch with the difficult reality some families face. While the General Assembly has prohibited the use of state resources to deliver a critical service for Virginia families, I am hopeful that other medical providers in the Commonwealth are able to accommodate families in need.
Third, this budget restricts state agencies and authorities from purchasing and implementing the use of body-worn cameras. This provision unnecessarily prohibits state law enforcement officers from providing the accountability that both citizens and law enforcement officers deserve.
These and other provisions in the budget do a disservice to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I will not be constrained by these provisions as I develop my proposed budget this fall.
Overall, I am proud to sign this budget. However, pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I have vetoed the following item. The effect of this Veto will be to return the item to its original enactment in Chapter 2, 2018 Acts of Assembly, Special Session I.
Item 292, pages 319, 320, 321, 322 – Community Health Services
Action: I veto this item including all appropriations and conditions that appear on pages 319, 320, 321, and 322.
Ralph S. Northam, May 2, 2019
The re-enrolled bill changes language the General Assembly and I agreed to last year providing funding for a pilot program to distribute long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to low-income women across the Commonwealth. LARCs are the most effective form of contraception and are associated with reducing pre-term births and lower birth weight babies, as well as decreasing abortion rates. The language as passed by the General Assembly will constrain the program, preventing individuals in need from receiving this important service. By vetoing all of Item 292, the budget will revert back to the original language, which satisfies the intent of the program.
Ralph S. Northam
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