Legislation passed during the 2022 Session takes effect today, July 1, unless other provided for in the bill. For a summary of major legislation, check out In Due Course, a publication of the Division of Legislative Services.
Behavioral Health Funding
This biennial budget builds on the historic investments we have made over the past eight years in behavioral healthcare. My colleagues continue to join me in prioritizing behavioral health to benefit Virginians across the Commonwealth, and for that I am deeply grateful. It is also a testament to the dedication of the many advocacy groups and individuals and families who raise awareness and share their support for improvements.
In the new biennial budget, we provide an additional $127 million in General Fund spending for community behavioral health. This includes fully funding STEP-VA (an additional $50.5 million in this biennium for a total of $229.6 million), $34 million for permanent supportive housing (increasing the total in FY2024 to $56.5 million), $51.5 million for mobile crisis and receiving centers, salary increases for CSB employees, $7 million for discharge assistance planning, $2.5 million for a School-Based Mental Health Integration Pilot, $5.8 million for Part C Early Intervention, and additional funding to continue the Dementia Pilot Program.
The budget includes an additional $130.9 million for our state facilities. This includes $109.8 million to raise direct care staff compensation to 50% of the market median, $10.2 million to expand therapeutic intervention services and discharge planning, $3.3 million to cover overtime costs, and $200,000 to expand telehealth.
Other spending items include my amendments to increasing the rate for Peer and Family Support providers and to add 10 new psychiatric residency slots. $5.4 million was added to allow for alternative custody for TDOs, $3.8 million to fully fund alternative transportation, and $2 million to expand the discharge transportation program to all facilities. Finally the budget includes funding to fully staff the Behavioral Health Commission.
Many years ago, I could not have imagined we would reach this level of investment in our behavioral health system. However, it is so important for us to sustain and build upon this work so we can address the unconscionable ER boarding crisis we are experiencing, improve the quality of services, expand and adequately compensate the workforce, and meet the needs of every Virginian when they need it. While we have made so much progress, much work remains.
I wanted to provide a brief update on my successful budget amendments this year. This year, I was able to secure funding to support reentry efforts at the Restoration and Hope House in Charlottesville and at the Bridge Ministry with the establishment of the Judge Swett Learning Center. Additional funding to assist with the shortage of with sexual assault forensic examiners and sexual assault nurse examiners was also included in the budget. We secured additional funding for state-responsible inmates held at our local jail, which will provide some relief to our local governments.
My budget amendment to support the Virginia Horse Center also was included in the final budget, as was $50,000 for the Western Virginia Education Consortium and an amendment directing the transfer of the Hayfields Farm for the purpose of creating a state park. I was also able to secure funding for Virginia Humanities to expand its programming and services related to Virginia Indian history and culture. The Vietnam War and Foreign Conflicts Museum in Nelson County will also receive funding this year.
The budget also included my funding requests to allow for the continued surveillance of groundwater and surface water for PFAS and to provide staffing and support for a statewide mussel restoration plan. Finally, the final budget included language that delays the setting of private special education day school tuition rates, an action that would have been detrimental to the Virginia Institute for Autism in Charlottesville and the families they serve.
Abortion Rights in Virginia
In 1975, just two years after Roe, the Virginia General Assembly codified the basic trimester framework of Roe v. Wade into state law.
- During the first trimester, physicians, nurses, and certified midwives can all perform abortions, and it does not need to be in a clinical setting.
- During the second trimester, only physicians may administer an abortion, and it must take place in a hospital.
- During the third trimester, three doctors must certify that “the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the woman” or “substantially and irremediably impair [her] mental or physical health” and that the procedure be conducted in a hospital.
You can read the text of the law here starting at Section 18.2-72.
Virginia Democrats, when we had majorities in both the House of Delegates and Senate after the 2019 election, made abortions more readily accessible to women. In 2020, we passed Senator Jennifer McClellan’s Senate Bill 733 to expand who could perform abortions and remove the requirement to undergo an ultrasound – a decision which should be made by the health care provider, not politicians – and the 24-hour waiting period. And in 2021, we passed Senator McClellan’s and Delegate Sally Hudson’s bill, which allowed health insurance providers, selling plans in the marketplace, to provide coverage for abortion care.
See below for some local and national resources on your rights and how you can help.
In the 25th Senate District, there are just two abortion providers, both of whom are in the City of Charlottesville, Planned Parenthood – Charlottesville Health Center and Whole Woman’s Health of Charlottesville. Just outside of the district, there are two providers in Roanoke, Planned Parenthood – Roanoke Health Center and Roanoke Medical Center for Women.
There are also telehealth providers who can mail mediation to you regardless of where you live in Virginia. Finally, there are abortion funds to support people who are do not have insurance or whose plans do not cover them. For our district, our local fund is the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund.
For other resources, visit the Biden Administration’s Reproductive Rights site, Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, and the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance.
Mileage Choice Program
for more information.
In 2020, the General Assembly created the Highway Use Fee to bolster funding for maintenance. The fee for fuel efficient vehicles is based on the average mileage of Virginia drivers.
The bill also required DMV to create an alternative program effective July 1, 2022 that is based on actual mileage.
If you have questions or would like more information, visit the DMV’s website.
Have Questions Regarding the 2022 Tax Rebates?
The budget agreement provides for $250 rebates to individuals and $500 for married couples. The Department of Taxation established a website with additional information about who is eligible and when the rebates will be issued. For more information and some frequently asked questions, see here.
The final budget also made the earned income tax credit partially refundable. Raising awareness about this policy shift will be important during tax season next year.
Last week I met with AmeriCorp members serving with the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville. What a wonderful way to recognize World Refugee Day!