Hundreds urge lawmakers to restore funding cuts

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Hundreds descended on John Tyler Community College in Chester to give state lawmakers a piece of their mind on Virginia's current budget proposal.

Missey Moores and her daughter Colleen, 23, say they arrived with a purpose.

"For Colleen, we wanted to put a very human face on these budget cuts. And because it does impact us," Moores said.

Colleen has cerebral palsy. She needs care 24/7, and she's fortunate to receive professional care at home instead of an institution. That's why more than a hundred parents and advocates urged lawmakers to restore the state funding that makes that kind of care possible.

"That really helps us to have an occasional sanity break," one parent said. Over four hours, other comments included, "I find this quite unacceptable," "There's no protection for them," and "It seems there are no real solutions in sight." They urged lawmakers to restore a proposed cut to the Medicaid waiver system.

At the same time, the state budget remains a work in progress. There are proposals to hold back funding for higher education and public safety, and generate new dollars for transportation. Advocates waited patiently for their three minutes at the podium.

But the main message, overwhelmingly, was about mental health dollars.

"We should be expanding services and not cutting back services," said Lynne Seward, CEO of Grace Place Adult Care Center.

In another tight budget year...whether strength in numbers is enough, remains to be seen.

"I'm not sure. I think they were listening," Moores said of the lawmakers.

The hearings typically do take several hours. This one lasted from Noon until 5:00 p.m. Some speakers waited the entire time to have their voice heard, even though a few of the delegates and senators had already left.

State lawmakers will debate changes to the budget proposal when the General Assembly meets beginning next Wednesday.

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