Governor Ralph Northam recently released a statement upon the adjournment of the 2018 regular legislative session.
“As the General Assembly concludes the first regular session of my governorship, I am heartened by all that we have accomplished to make the lives of Virginians better. Over the past 60 days, we have worked together in a bipartisan way to make significant progress on a number of issues that are important to the families we serve. While this session has been marked by real progress on challenges that Virginians are facing, the fact remains that our most pressing business will remain unfinished until the General Assembly passes a budget that reflects the priorities of the people who sent us to Richmond.
“Virginians expect their leaders to work together to get things done, and we have managed to address a number of the issues they placed on our docket. For the first time in decades, we have raised the felony larceny threshold. We have made a bipartisan commitment to regulatory reform and are on track to finalize a historic agreement to strengthen Metro’s management and stability and provide the system with a dedicated source of revenue. We have come together to end the freeze on energy utility rates and significantly improve legislation to return money to consumers, invest in a clean energy future and modernize our electrical grid.
“These would be significant achievements on their own; together, they form a remarkable package of legislation that will help grow our economy and make life better for Virginia families. I am hopeful this is a signal of what we can accomplish when the General Assembly returns to complete their work on a budget.
“I am disappointed that the General Assembly, so far, has been unable to pass a budget that expands health coverage to Virginians who need it and makes essential investments in core priorities like education, workforce development, public safety and revenue reserves. By including the expansion of health care in the budget, we have a tremendous opportunity to build a healthier workforce, create new jobs and boost our state budget.
“The House of Delegates has worked with my team and me to build a compromise proposal that will bring the benefits of health coverage and the related savings to Virginians. I am hopeful that members of the Senate will join us to build on the bipartisan progress that has defined our work this session. As we prepare for a special session to resolve this issue, my team and I will introduce budgets for the General Assembly’s consideration. It will include Medicaid expansion and the significant investments that the savings from expanded coverage will generate to fund key priorities like education, workforce development and salary increases for public servants, with a particular focus on men and women in law enforcement.
“At the beginning of the legislative session, I outlined priorities that still demand our attention. Virginians are asking us to act on commonsense gun safety reform, to move towards renewable energy by formally joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), to protect all Virginians from discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation and to increase access to the voting booth. These efforts will not end with this regular session. We have many exciting opportunities for collaboration ahead of us, and I look forward to continuing a productive partnership with the members of the General Assembly in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
-Submitted by Charlotte Gomer, Assistant Communications Director