At times, unique opportunities present themselves when as Lt. Governor I am able to highlight the need for Virginia to move forward from troubling elements of its past. When I was asked to adjourn the Senate in honor of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, I chose not to do so. Instead, I peacefully protested the Senate action by stepping off the dais and requested that the President Pro Tempore take my place. As only the second African American statewide official ever elected in Virginia and the descendant of enslaved Africans, I could not preside over an action honoring those who sought to extend slavery’s presence in the Commonwealth and beyond. Instead, I sat quietly on the bench used by the Senate Pages and contemplated the June 5, 1798 manumission document by which Lord Thomas Fairfax freed my great-great-great grandfather Simon Fairfax from slavery in Virginia.
I was proud to stand with Governor Northam as he signed legislation expanding healthcare access to over 400,000 Virginians. As Medicaid expansion made its way through the legislative process, I broke ties and cast four decisive votes in the Senate to ensure passage.
Medicaid expansion gives Virginians access to quality, low-cost and no-cost health insurance. By recovering $2.4 billion in federal taxes already being paid by Virginians, the expansion covers up to an additional 400,000 Virginians, 70% of whom earn less than $32,000 for a family of four or $15,302 for an individual. Since its implementation, over 300,00 Virginians have enrolled.
Mental Health Services
The state’s two-year budget also adds $189 million in new funding for behavioral health and developmental services, including $84.1 million for community mental health services and $67 million to expand services for people with developmental disabilities.