As you may already be aware, when the General Assembly meets for its 2021 session, the House of Delegates will meet 100% virtually. The Senate is scheduled to meet at the Science Museum in Richmond as they did during the 2020 Special Session. The Democrat leadership in Richmond has closed both the Capitol and the Pocahontas Building, where members of the House and Senate and their staff normally operate.
The 2021 session will only last thirty days and begins Wednesday, January 13th. Considering the lengthy regular and special sessions held last year, Republicans felt like the General Assembly should be able to complete its work for 2021 in the 30 days the Constitution allows. Therefore, they blocked the vote to extend session to 45 days like as is typically done in odd-numbered years. Last year the regular session lasted 65 days, and the special session stretched out over 84 days.
During odd number years, the Governor and members of the General Assembly can offer amendments to the budget we adopted last year. I will have more information to come on several budget amendments I will be introducing this year that will benefit the citizens of the 61st District.
Governor Northam recently announced his proposed budget amendments for the 2021 General Assembly session. They are most notable for what is missing: any help for families dealing with the ongoing impact of 'virtual' education.
Failing grades are skyrocketing across Virginia, and thousands of parents are feeling desperate and taking their kids out of public schools.
Republicans proposed a plan to help parents get the technology, tutoring, or other assistance they need for their students in the READ Fund, which would use $100 million from CARES Act funding. Yet Democrats killed the proposal outright during the 2020 Special Session.
Instead, Governor Northam's budget continues to subsidize failure - they do nothing to help our students in need now. This is a crisis, and Democrats are treating it like business as usual. Virginia's students are not making progress. In many places they are regressing, and Democrats will do nothing to stop it. Republicans will continue to fight to get students and parents they help they need NOW, not just promises of help down the road at some point.
I agree with House Republican Todd Gilbert's Statement: "Governor Northam's budget proposals are extremely disappointing. Rather than face the very real crisis facing our students, Governor Northam has instead defaulted back to the same old Democratic playbook — throwing money at the same old-line items and hoping they solve problems he won't even acknowledge, instead focusing on his ongoing efforts at political rehabilitation.
"The amount of failing grades in our K-12 schools have skyrocketed. Children trapped in endless Zoom meetings aren't just failing to learn — they're losing hope. The Governor has proposed no funding to help parents get the technology or other assistance their children need to succeed in virtual schools. His budget includes no immediate help for families who live beyond the reach of broadband Internet. Children and families need help now, not down the road."
While my assistant Tammy Mulchi and I will be working virtually, we want to make sure that all the constituents are able to reach us whether we are in session or not. The best way to contact us is via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or by calling 804.698.1061. You can also send mail to PO Box 1323, Victoria, Virginia 23974.
If there is a need for a face-to-face meeting or a virtual meeting, we will make every effort to meet that need also. We will certainly miss seeing all of those that normally travel from the district to visit us in Richmond to discuss issues that are important to them during session. While this is a very different time and situation we are working in, I want you to know I am still available to hear each and every concern and hope you will contact my office.