Posted March 16, 2010 | comments 5 Comments

A distasteful budget

Facing a $4 billion budget gap, the General Assembly went about its distasteful task expeditiously, adopting a $70 billion-plus, two-year spending plan Sunday, only a day late.

The budget, which returns to the spending levels of 2006, slashes millions from education, health care and public safety, areas largely sheltered from previous cuts. While specifics are in flux, schools take a $646 million hit, meaning layoffs and larger class sizes, and health programs are cut by more than $1 billion, reducing Medicaid payments and limiting the number of children and mentally disabled adults receiving state care. Law enforcement was spared deeper cuts and arts funding, which the House of Delegates had considered eliminating, will be cut 15 percent over the biennium.

With tax hikes off the table -- both Gov. Bob McDonnell and assembly Republicans were adamantly opposed -- the legislature avoided even more draconian cuts by imposing $95 million in new fees and by diverting $620 million from the Virginia Retirement System. The latter gambit will also spare local governments from having to make pension contributions although the payments will have to be made up.

Although the budget dominated the session, Republicans also sought to limit gun control and expand the death penalty, initiatives largely blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate. Five Democrats, though, broke ranks to support Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel's bill making it illegal for the federal government to require people to buy health insurance, a mischievous measure giving the willfully uninsured the "freedom" to mooch on the insured.

McDonnell kept a relatively low profile, mostly working behind the scenes on the budget, but he won money for his job creation initiatives and a limited expansion of charter schools. His focus was distracted by the flare-up over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion limiting state colleges' efforts to ban discrimination against gays.

While Republicans in Richmond sustained their antipathy to tax hikes, localities may not be so fortunate if they want to preserve government jobs and services.


    If the government had no hand in health care there would be no way for the "willfully uninsured the 'freedom' to mooch on the insured," as everyone uninsured would be responsible for themselves.

    Let's start with "willfully uninsured" and make one thing clear. Without government involvement in healthcare you'd create more "UN-willfully uninsured"...

    See the problem with attempting to be magnanimous while still wishing to end government entitlements is that you are essentially throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    If I'm reading you right, you are for ending government involvement in healthcare because of the "willfully uninsured" mooching the system. That's a noble thing for sure and I would tend to agree, but the problem is that you are ALSO taking insurance away from those who simply cannot afford it.

    I'm sure you know that under current law, a hospital cannot turn away a patient due to lack of ability to pay, so unless laws change, government involvement or not, these people are going to mooch the system and you and I will end up paying for it....

    If we CHANGE the law, then you end up with the unsightly horrors of people simply dying on the steps of the hospital because doctors and hospitals can refuse treatment to them because they cannot pay... Are we going to start running people's credit before we treat them now?

    The government is a necessary evil in healthcare. Like it or not, they are more trustworthy in being an advocate for our health than an insurance company with a profit motive.

    If there's another way that you have in mind, I'm all ears....


    Hi Irishman,

    In all my studies of American history, even during the great depression I don't remember bodies littering the streets...maybe I'm wrong, can you point me to a time in our history where people were dying in droves in the streets? (Besideds perhaps war time).

    I don't see why people need insurance to get medical care. Yes, I agree that people should buy emergency insurance, kind of like home insurance or car insurance, something to help if there is a catastrophy...but that should be their choice, and if they have it before they get sick the insurance company should HAVE to pay, that's the whole purpose of insurance. Why can't people simply go to the doctors office, say, "I'd like this or that," and pay for it. A simple check up should be able to be managed. We did that for many years in this country and people lived. The problem with government funded healthcare is what we have now, people going to the doctors for everything...even splinters. If people had to shop around for health care the costs would come down. Doctors already charge people who pay cash less, and honestly most will allow for payment plans. The real choice comes down to what's more important, TV, cell phone, designer clothes, etc. or a doctor visit.

    Whatever happened to saving for a rainy day? The poorest of the poor in our country live like kings as opposed to those in other countries. Americans think they are owed everything and should get whatever they want. I disagree. I know this is an unpopular thing to say, but I do believe that Churches and charities do more to help the poor than the government, I believe that people would receive the care they needed from these organizations. I have seen the kindness of strangers, and it is a whole lot better than anything that the government does.

    BTW which insurance company denies more patients claims for health care? It's the government...medicare and medicaid. I trust the American people and even insurance companies over the government (any party) every day of the year!

    Love ya, Irishman!

    If I've paid into it my whole life, yes I will, but I would gladly give it up if it would be changed now, so that only the people 55 and older who really need it get it and then anyone born after the age cut off would not. That way, while we would be stuck paying for the promises our grandparents made we would not be sticking our children/grandchildren/and all future generations with the monstrous debt and slavery it will bring.

    Social security and medicare are unsustainable AND even if I wanted it, I am only 40, I will not see a penny of it, because it will be bankrupt...like the rest of the country. During the depression people didn't know the consequences to this kind of program. Now we do and if we're not willing to give up the socialist programs that we now have there will be no America left. I have a friend in England who tells me that since she's old (60's) the hospitals do not treat her the same as younger people. She thinks they just don't care if older folks die. Yes, folks that will be coming to America in the health care bill. Do you really want the government telling you how to live?...do this or don't get covered? Once the government takes over health care in 10 years or less there will be no option, because there will be no private insurers, and the common man/woman will not have any extra disposable income to spend on their own health because it will be going out to pay for government health care...NOTHING IS FREE!!

    Are you willing to raid your children's and grandchildren's piggy banks so you can retire to "The Villages" or other living facility? It may be a hardship for adults to take care of their parents in the final years of their lives, but remember your parents took care of you for the first 18 years of our lives, so maybe we can stop being the generation of selfishness and take care of our families and also our neighbors through charitable giving and yes, through the Christian Churches.

    Remember it may be the Democrats setting up the system, but Republicans (like the scary George Bush) will be back in power again someday. Do you want him in charge of your health care? Just asking.

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