Va. Senate Democrats Deliver Historic Transportation Plan, Create Path to Medicaid Expansion
RICHMOND, VA — Today, Virginia Senate Democrats provided the crucial votes to pass a historic transportation reform plan and to put Virginia on a path to essential Medicaid expansion.
Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, "On the two biggest issues this year, Senate Democrats stayed committed to our values and delivered historic legislation. We've delivered the first transportation bill in almost 30 years years and put the Commonwealth on a solid path toward expanding Medicaid."
Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, "Today, Senate Democrats delivered critical priorities to Virginians, with a historic transportation plan and a budget that prioritizes the expansion of Medicaid."
Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) said, "We have put Virginia on a clear path to expanding Medicaid. Isn't it immoral to deprive 400,000 Virginians -- our neighbors -- of medical insurance? Isn't it immoral to deprive 30,000 Virginians -- our neighbors -- of good-paying jobs? Isn't it immoral to send the hard-earned money of tax-paying Virginians, that should be coming here, to other states? Today, we have made a wise choice and done the right thing."
Senator McEachin said, "I'm especially proud of Democrats for driving the debate and providing the leadership to make this happen. The language in this budget means countless Virginia families will soon be able to access essential healthcare. The state will save millions of dollars every year, and we'll create thousands of good jobs. Medicaid expansion makes sense for everyone, and I'm very pleased with the path we put the Commonwealth on today."
Senator Saslaw said, "On the two biggest pro-business bills of this session, Democrats provided the votes necessary for passage. Today, the Senate Democrats passed a budget that puts Virginia on a solid path toward expanding Medicaid, which will generate close to 30,000 good jobs in Virginia. We have to move in this direction."
A Lasting Transportion Solution
By the fifth year, the transportation plan will raise $880 million in new statewide transportation revenue, and an additional $350 million in Northern Virginia and $200 million in Hampton Roads. This plan, HB 2313, is the first major transportation bill to pass in 27 years. It passed the Senate on a vote of 25 to 15.
The Senate Democrats improved the Governor's plan by maintaining the historic link between road users and funding, reducing the diversion of general funds, and giving localities more flexibility. The plan also raises significantly more new revenue.
Senator Saslaw said, "This plan raises enough money to fix our Commonwealth's transportation problems. The plan raises over $880 million per year for state transportation needs, and gives Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads the flexibility they require to solve their unique transportation needs. This conference report represents real compromise on the part of Democrats and Republicans, and real progress for Virginia."
Senator Howell said, "Senate Democrats fought to improve the transportation plan over the Governor's original proposal - - and we did it, raising more revenue and giving localities more flexibility. By maintaining the tax on gasoline, we preserved the link between the people who use the roads and the people who pay for them. We've reduced the amount money coming out of the general fund by $100 million, and probably $220 million. This is a better plan because we wouldn't settle for less."
Senator McEachin said, "Senate Democrats were able to provide the 17 votes needed to pass this bill. This is a serious, long-term solution to a transportation crisis that has been plaguing Virginia for a decade. With this plan passed, the Commonwealth can finally begin long-overdue construction projects and resume long-delayed maintenance."
"The consensus among Senate Democrats is that the tax on hybrid vehicles is not necessary and discourages behavior we should be encouraging. However, we judged that the benefit of passing a comprehensive plan took precedence this year. Next year, I am certain we will revisit the issue of a punitive tax on hybrid cars," added Senator McEachin.
Senator Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton), "I'm going to be proud coming back home to Hampton Roads having voted for this plan. It gives us the funds we need to begin fixing the gridlock that is plaguing our community. Hopefully, this bill will cut down on the use of tolls in Hampton Roads. I'm glad the legislators have decided to finally address this important issue."