|I do not envy the task given Virginia's leaders. Such miserable economic circumstances have created a mutli-billion dollar shortfall in the state budget. While many citizens and elected officials alike might appreciate a countercyclical increase in government spending during these difficult times, Virginia must maintain a balanced budget.
I do not believe a balanced budget should or must come on the backs of Virginia's poor. 10% of Virginians live under the poverty line - among the lowest rates in the country - are they too much of a burden on our strained budget? The short answer is no.
Governor McDonnell believes they are. He believes in cutting...
$33.8 Million in FAMIS (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security) - 28,566 Virginian children and pregnant women will go without health insurance
$2.4 Million in local dental services - 24,066 Virginians will lose access to dental health services
$5.3 Million in school breakfasts
$6 Million in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds for homeless families.
These are simply among the most heinous cuts put forth by the Governor's office. I do wish I could protest the closing of state parks; I wish I could protest decreases in teacher salaries; I wish I could protest the paring of programs to prevent teen pregnancy, but I simply cannot. Families face homelessness without a helping hand, the poor face disease, and children face starvation. Let me be perfectly clear: that is the leadership of Governor Bob McDonnell.
Conspicuously missing from the Governor's budget is one single tax increase on the wealthy. What we have here is hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases on the poor. Virginia's impoverished 10% will continue to give up their wealth at the gas station, at the supermarket, and at the bank, but what will they receive in return? If Governor McDonnell has his way the lives of hundreds of thousands of Virginian families take a back seat to the "needs" of the most fortunate among us.
Governor McDonnell's budget is immoral, undemocratic, and illogical. On Monday I will join dozens of other young voters in Richmond for the Virginia Young Democrats annual "lobby day" to express my concerns and my fears about these proposals. We must not abandon our common wealth.
Antonio M. Elias
Vice President - Issue Advocacy
Virginia Young Democrats