I hope you’re enjoying the warm spring weather…ok, the heat is coming, really. Al Gore says so.
I’m writing to update you on a few issues affecting our state government as well as news on the Business Development Caucus and even some campaign fodder.
Now that the regular General Assembly session, one very brief special session, and the veto session are behind us, we know what to expect regarding new laws that will take effect on July 1. I’m pleased to report that some of the initiatives I presented this year, submitted by friends on my behalf, were successful. Most were bills developed last summer and in many cases, a result of meeting with Virginia businesses during our 2013 Business Development Caucus town-hall events.
In addition, one significant budget item that I had requested also appears on track to succeed – once we have a budget. You may recall from my campaign mailers that I took a group to meet with the Governor last fall to discuss a new opportunity for thousands of construction jobs and 200 permanent high-paying career positions. Governor McDonnell included this in his budget proposal and according to House and Senate budget conferees it’s likely to survive the process – again, once we have a budget. We’ll cover that in a moment.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I spent some time in the Capitol over the last few months. In fact, I was in Richmond during session at least a day or two each week except for two; one of which I used to travel with my family to the Daytona 500. This was a family tradition for a decade prior to my 2011 election and despite the threat of tornadoes I enjoyed seeing an Earnhardt take the checkered flag again.
Otherwise, I was fairly active testifying before committees and supporting my BDC colleagues whenever I could. I will admit to enjoying my nights at home however, while accomplishing, with the help of friends, successes equal to or exceeding some who were in Richmond full time.
In the last few weeks I’ve been invited to speak to several organizations and participate in a variety of Hampton Roads education and economic development events. Two such events were held in Newport News this week and are tied to issues I have and will continue to promote; workforce development and economic growth.
There is much work to be done to expand opportunities for the citizens of our region and state. To the extent that I can help, I’ll continue to do so.
To keep up with our activities "Like" our Facebook page by clicking here.
Bills, resolutions, and program expansions should have been secondary to the main purpose of the 2014 session, passing the state’s biennial budget; but it would not be. That’s not to say it wasn’t tried. In fact, the House and Senate conferees were within a fraction of a percentage from agreement lest the insistence by some that Medicaid be expanded ‘pursuant to the Affordable Care Act’.
I punctuated the last sentence to emphasize the real cause of the impasse. It is not that Republicans fail to recognize the need for expanded access to affordable care or are unwilling to work towards that goal. Rather, the governor and most democrats in the legislature demand an all-or-nothing solution, unwilling to settle for anything less than full expansion without consideration of practicable alternatives. They would have you believe the so-called “private option” or “pilot program” offer compromise, but neither does. The private option poses identical risk to Virginia taxpayers as the public option and the pilot program is nothing less than full implementation with an unrealistic clause allowing legislators to vote 400,000 new participants out of the program once they’ve had coverage for two years.
I recognize the need to resolve the issue of unaffordable care, it is real. As an employer, I’ve dealt with double-digit premium increases for 25 years. Had states acted earlier to implement reform, we might have avoided Obamacare altogether; perhaps we can revisit that after 2016. In the meantime, Speaker Howell has proposed a special session to consider options for extending care to those who can least afford it. To date the Governor appears obstinate, refusing to act on the budget without full-blown Medicaid expansion first. We have 8 weeks before our current budget expires. Interesting times are ahead.
Last month, the Business Development Caucus (“BDC”) held its annual founders conference. Meeting in the General Assembly office building, we reviewed the status of bills from its 2014 Legislative Agenda, confirming those that had passed and evaluating the future of those that did not. We also set our summer town hall schedule which includes a stop in York County on August 28th. The Daily Press covered a few agenda items here: Daily Press Coverage of BDC
There are numerous concerns with the unfettered expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, but at the top of the list is doubt that the federal government “can” or “will” fulfill its obligation to cover 90% of the costs in perpetuity. Most of us understand the “can” aspect as the U.S. already borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends, but what about the “will”? Some of the lawmakers pushing for expansion say that they trust the government to always pay its full share but recent testimony by the former HHS Secretary suggests otherwise. Take a look at her testimony. Click on the link below and fast forward to 2:22:50:
She says, "We are actually kind of ramping up the pressure on states and will look at potentially some administrative reductions in payment if people don't pick up this pace because having a backlog that is not being processed in a timely fashion is just keeping way too many people from the healthcare that they are entitled to." They wouldn’t actually cut Medicaid funding to states as punishment…would they?
Last minute newsflash: As I wrap up the final touches of this update, I'm reading a Washington Post article that just hit the wires, "McAuliffe weighs Medicaid expansion without legislature." Friends, there's no congenial way to put this. In four short months, Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring are managing to dishonor the high esteem of our state government by disregarding the rule of law. This letter is read by citizens of all political leanings and I do not desire to offend, but if you are one that believes the 'end justifies the means', I urge you to consider this. This action, if taken, will set a precedent for future governors and will change the tone in Richmond for years to come. Virginia is better than this; we all deserve better.
Friends of Mike Watson - Contributions
Effective today, the Friends of Mike Watson campaign committee has re-opened its on-line contribution portal, accepting PayPal and all major credit cards. Contributions will support mailed correspondence, web & social media, office expenses, and future staffing at our Jamestown Rd. office as we work to address state issues and expand opportunity for its citizens. If you would like to make a contribution, go on-line to: DelegateWatson.com/contribute/ or by mail to:
Friends of Mike Watson
PO Box 6628
Williamsburg, VA 23188
Help take back the VA Senate
Please join me on May 15th as we help Senator Norment
take back control of the VA Senate at
The Twenty-Second Annual Norment Invitational & Clambake
Fords Colony, Williamsburg.
I’m looking for three golfers to help field a team.