The recent rains have certainly given our region’s meteorologists much to do over the last several weeks. I, too, have been busy at work–though not predicting the weather forecast. In this update, I’ll share with you some of what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks, including an update on the state budget.
Visit to the White House
On June 6th, I had the opportunity to visit the White House to watch President Donald Trump sign the VA Mission Act into law.
President Donald J. Trump speaking prior to signing the VA Mission Act into law.
This bill contains dozens of provisions to expand access, improve quality, and strengthen the VA health care system for all enrolled veterans. It requires the development of a long-term plan to modernize, properly align and fund VA’s health care facilities to meet the future needs of veterans. It further contains provisions to improve the VA’s ability to recruit, hire and retain high-quality doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. The bill makes critical improvements to VA’s telehealth policies to expand access for rural and remote veterans, and also includes language to support VA’s efforts.
Speaker Cox with (from left to right) Denver Riggleman, state Senator Bryce Reeves, and Vice President Mike Pence in the White House Rose Garden.
As one who has worked for many years on veterans related matters, I’m grateful for this President and his administration’s dedication to those who served our nation in the armed forces. We’ve seen time and time again the President place the needs of America’s veterans at the forefront of his agenda.
Speaker Cox with American Legion members Brett Reistad and Dan Dellinger, both past Commanders of the American Legion Department of Virginia.
Lastly, I thank the President and Vice President for inviting me to the White House to witness this bill signing. It was great to see many veterans, especially Virginia veterans, in attendance.
On May 30th, the House of Delegates and Senate passed a bipartisan, conservative budget that was subsequently signed into law by the Governor. This budget funds core functions of government–education, transportation, and public safety–without raising general fund taxes. And because we cannot simply print more money like Washington does, the state budget is balanced and doesn’t spend more money than we take in.
With new investments from this budget, the state will have nearly $1 billion in reserve funds to offset future downturns in the economy. Our conservative budget also resulted in S&P upgrading our state’s credit rating from AAA negative outlook to AAA stable outlook. Since credit agencies began tracking credit in 1932, Virginia is only one of a select states to maintain the prestigious AAA bond rating by all three credit agencies. Our AAA credit rating means that Virginia’s fiscal house is in order.
This budget makes significant investments in the core functions of government. Included in the budget are:
- A three percent pay raise for public school teachers, the fifth teacher pay raise in six years.
- Increases in starting pay for corrections officers to help reduce employee turnover and, in turn, reduce the costs of training new officers
- Additional “599 funding” to help make sure local law enforcement have the tools they need to fight gangs and the opioid crisis
- $120 million in new higher education funding, including an additional $29 million in financial aid to help more Virginians go to college
- Additional funding for Virginians with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including an additional 1,645 waiver slots
- Includes longstanding language to prevent taxpayer funding of on-demand abortion
Much of the debate regarding the budget centered around health care, particularly Medicaid. Throughout the entirety of this process, my position on Medicaid has never wavered. I remain concerned about the long-term fiscal impacts of expansion, but the simple truth is there were never enough votes in the House or Senate to block some form of Medicaid Expansion. When I was elected Speaker, I committed to lead the House as a governing body, not a political one, and when confronted with that reality we crafted a plan that guarantees conservative reforms that would not have otherwise been realized.
Key to the plan is Virginia’s acceptance of federal dollars to allow more low-income, working Virginians obtain health insurance. This conservative health care reform plan includes:
- A meaningful work requirement for able-bodied adults
- A ‘Taxpayer Safety Switch’ that ends the expansion if the federal government fails to uphold their end of the agreement
- Individuals placed not on government run exchanges, but on private plans
With the Trump Administration’s willingness to work with states on health care reform, now is the time to achieve these conservative reforms. Already, the President and his Administration have approved work requirements in Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas. This conservative plan, particularly the taxpayer safety switch and work requirements, will help reform our existing Medicaid plan so that those truly in need can receive a hand up, not a hand out.
School Safety Update
The second meeting of the House Select Committee on School Security will take place on July 11th at Meadowbrook High School in Chesterfield County. As the House continues to look at ways to improve school safety, the public is invited to provide their suggestions for the committee to consider. You can submit suggestions, as well as sign up for email notifications from the committee, by visiting www.schoolsafety.virginia.gov.
In addition to the Select Committee on the state level, similar committees have been formed by both the federal government and local governments. Recently, the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the establishment of the Federal Commission on School Safety. Likewise, Chesterfield County has formed the School Safety Task Force to review security protocols in county schools.
Speaker Kirk Cox addressing members of the Chesterfield School Safety Task Force.
In my position as Chairman of the House Select Committee on School Safety, I had the opportunity to share with Chesterfield’s School Safety Task Force members the work we are doing on the state level. We both share the belief that schools should be a place of learning, not violence.
Annual Breakfast Was A Success!
A huge thank you to everyone who supported and attended my 22nd Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Keystone Tractor Museum! By all accounts, this event was a huge success.
Speaker Cox speaking at his 22nd Annual Legislative Breakfast in Colonial Heights.
We had over 200 supporters in attendance. Many of those attending were present at my first legislative breakfast 22 years ago, while others are more recent attendees. It was a great event that allowed for a recap of the 2018 legislative session.
If you weren’t able to join me for this event, but you’d still like to support our campaign, you can do so here.
Remembering the Fallen
In memory of the fallen, my office placed American flags in Chesterfield neighborhoods Glebe Point, Stoney Glenn South, and along Treely Road. It is just one small way to say thank you to those who gave their all in service to our nation.
Students at the Capitol
Over the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to welcome students from both Manchester High School and Ecoff Elementary School to the State Capitol in Richmond. As a retired government teacher, I relish the opportunity to discuss state politics with students and help them learn how the General Assembly operates. I thank their teachers for all of their efforts to arrange their trip to the Capitol, and I am fully confident that one of these students will serve in the House of Delegates one day.
Speaker Cox talking with Manchester High School students in the House of Delegates chamber.
Speaker Cox answer questions from Ecoff Elementary students in the House of Delegates chamber.
Around the District
A special thank you to the members of the Central Chesterfield Kiwanis Club for inviting me to join them at their regular meeting for the purposes of providing a legislative update. I always appreciate the opportunity to speak to civic organizations about the work taking place in Richmond by their government.
Speaker Cox providing a legislative update to the Central Chesterfield Kiwanis Club.
Outside of session, you can contact me in my district office via phone at 526-5135; by email at email@example.com; or by US mail at PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights, VA 23834. I encourage you to visit my Facebook page, Twitter page, and website to stay up to date with events taking place in the 66th district and your state government.