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McDonnell privately proposes children's insurance, education cuts

Rosalind Helderman

Gov. Bob McDonnell's finance secretary is expanding his meetings with lawmakers and aides about McDonnell's proposals for cutting the state budget. We understand the suggestions are very specific--about the only people McDonnell hasn't shared his ideas with yet are the public.

And because the meetings continue to take place behind closed doors, McDonnell's ideas are emerging only in drips and drabs. We already mentioned, for instance, that more than 40 percent of the $1.7 billion in cuts he is recommending would come from K-12 education, largely by moving away from the state's Standards of Quality mandates. Those items outline what is considered a basic education in Virginia and funding them has traditionally been shared by the state and local school systems.

Eliminating SOQs would give local school districts more flexibility in how to spend dollars but it would also them a choice: shoulder the full cost with local tax dollars or eliminate spending altogether on items that have for years been considered part of a no-frills, basic education.

Meanwhile, we're also starting to hear some of McDonnell's proposals in other areas as well.

For instance, Gov. Tim Kaine (D) had recommended a 5 percent cut to local Community Service Boards, which offer substance abuse and mental health programs. McDonnell says they should receive a 10 percent cut, meaning an additional $48 million cut over two years.

He has also recommended cutting $30 million over two years from the state's FAMIS health program, which provides insurance to low-income children and pregnant mothers. That change would come from freezing enrollment in FAMIS, which is available to children whose families make between $30,000 and $44,000. (Those with even lower family income qualify for medicaid.)

The change would mean poor children would not be able to get health insurance, and the number enrolled in the program would drop from 100,000.

Virginia also gets significant federal funding for FAMIS in a 2-to-1 match for state spending. That means that cutting $30 million from the program would result in Virginia losing $60 million over two years in federal money and the program losing $90 million in all.

Since each area of the budget has its advocates, you can start to understand why McDonnell would not be anxious to be publicly associated with the controversial proposals.

For example, here's Jill Hankin, a staff attorney with the Poverty Law Center, on the impact of the possible FAMIS cut: "A freeze means we're closing the door on uninsured kids who need who need health care... For the state to turn its back on low-income pregnant mothers and kids is horrifying."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 12, 2010; 1:52 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Typical reaction from the Republican agenda. The rich (those that can afford health care) live. The poor, get sick and die. Didn't a Gov't try this before, in the 1930's and 40s.?

Posted by: rkmech11 | February 12, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Good for him.

Local jurisdictions should decide how to spend their money.

Pregnant teens shouldn't be pregnant. Some of us are tired of paying their way.

It's going to be a great 4 years!

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | February 12, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

"Pregnant teens shouldn't be pregnant."

Like a certain former Governor's daughter!

Posted by: kenarmy | February 12, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

mikecapitolhill, I'm not sure where you're seeing anything about teenage mothers. This post mentions FAMIS, which provides low-income children and pregnant mothers with insurance. I suppose some of those pregnant mothers might be teenagers, but I would hazard a guess that many are not.

As for changing the SOQs for schools, the only way I could find that remotely acceptable is if Northern Virginia completely stops subsidizing the rest of the state. If we got our full tax dollars back to go to education, it might work. I can't see the politicians from the other areas in the state allowing this to happen. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to this.

Posted by: kacd | February 12, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"The only people the republican governor hasn't shared his ideas with are the public."

What else do you expect from repuglicans?


-- cut education

-- eliminate the state's Standards of Quality

-- cut mental health programs

-- end help for pregnant mothers

HEY: I got a better idea! How about raising the taxes of people with two-million-dollar houses in America's richest county by .5% ?

Answer: Because the rePIGlicans are in charge!

--faye kane, homeless brain
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at

Posted by: Knee_Cheese_Zarathustra | February 13, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Hey libs,

How about getting a better education, a better job-so that you can afford to pay for your kids healthcare, and not me, no?

Posted by: cschotta1 | February 13, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

"Pregnant teens shouldn't be pregnant. Some of us are tired of paying their way'

Very good point, we are tired of paying everything for these single moms, irregardlesss if they are teenagers or not..there is too much of an incentive for them to get pregnant and they are a huge burden on society. We pay pre natal, birth, daycare, food, etc..There should be a law against it. Of course the liberals and womens groups are all for paying these bills however as a society our moral fabric is deteriorating.

Posted by: mark0004 | February 13, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Interesting comments:
cschotta: those educations require money. The jobs require education. Where the is lottery that pays for the education so those without means can do as you suggest is easy to do:
"How about getting a better education, a better job-so that you can afford to pay for your kids healthcare, and not me, no?"
Simple answers are *not* the answer.
Besides, you may not have noticed while reading this (due to the of din of hate in your head), but it is not about jobs. It is about reducing funds for education and healthcare for the very folks YOU say should 'get' a good education and 'get' a good job.
People who are denied healthcare will have a harder time studying at the education they 'get' (which will of course be lower quality that the one you 'get') while sick or worried about getting sick.
So tell me, why is it only the 'Libs' who seem to notice that the Republican governor wants to preserve the poverty class?
cschotta, you offer your idea not to solve the problem, but rather to forward your disparaging attitude about the poor and those who do not share your politics.

Posted by: Dawa_Lhatso | February 13, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Voters should be extremely wary of those legislators who think they can balance the budget solely through tax cuts. We need people willing to take a balanced approach.

Posted by: weiwentg | February 13, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Well, of course he does. He learned from his Leader Limbaugh and mentor Pat Robertson that education is socialism (except for the rich who can send their kids to private schools)

Posted by: coloradodog | February 13, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Someone has to stand up and act like an adult. When the state doesn't have the money, it shouldn't spend it. It's common sense. Is it unfortunate? Yes. But it has to be done. I hope the Gov. does the right thing and not what is politically popular. It's stories like this that emphasize the budget cuts without emphasizing the budget problems and long term problems they can cause that make it virtually impossible for politicians to do what is necessary!

Posted by: LivinginthePromisedLand | February 13, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"Someone has to stand up and act like an adult. When the state doesn't have the money, it shouldn't spend it. It's common sense. Is it unfortunate? Yes. But it has to be done."

Agree completely but there are a million different ways to do that and cutting spendindg that affects those who are least able to help themselves seems shameless. The proposed cuts are just one way and those, like me, who are arguing against the proposals believe there is a better way to tackle the budget without hurting the poor or undermining the future of our children's education (hurting their chances to get a good job and contribute taxes to the state).

Posted by: jhinva | February 13, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson (Virginian) who said, "A true Democracy requires an educated populace."

No surprise Republicans continue to work towards the creation of an uneducated underclass. They're not interested in Democracy. They are only interested in Empire and Authoritarianism.

And please, don't even mention NCLB. It's been a complete failure -just the way the Republican administration wanted it to be.

Posted by: topwriter | February 13, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

And you thought that Gilmore did not have a brother! Always pleasant to watch a politician self destruct with less than a month in office.

He is awarding no bid contracts to his buddies at least Howell was sorta open about sweet heart deals.

Nice to see that the NRA finally got that seat directly on the legislative floor; avoids the middleman in terms of payoffs.

Posted by: KBlit | February 13, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

imagine that you elected a Republican and he guns first for education and help for poor children (who don't ask to be born). Imagine less education to keep teens busy and what will happen? probably more babies to support. A good solid education combats that. You dummies you elected him, now enjoy him!

Posted by: jkinderteacher | February 13, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"Tired of paying their way..." And I'm tired of services being cut because narrow-minded conservatives think this country should become a chaotic, let the rich-get-richer, no-government regulations, free-for all. I'm tired of teachers teaching on a cart. I'm tired of kids learning in portables. I'm tired of the heat in classrooms being turned back while a cold draft seeps in through the windows and HVAC units. I'm tired of the crummy school lunches. I'm tired of the potholes; the traffic tie-ups. I'm tired of the long DMV lines; and most of all, I'm tired of clueless, partisan politics.

And here's one for you to chew on....As a teacher I was responsible for interviewing Bob McD when he was a delegate from Va Beach. He asked me and my interviewing partner what we taught. She said algebra (kudoos to her, was McD's response), I teach art ("So tell me, why are there elementary art teachers, anyway? All you do is teach children how to color," was Delegate McDonell's response to me.) Small-minded man.

FYI...Many of the so-called "frills" are also job creators. For example, the arts contribute billions and billions of dollars to our economy...and I don't mean just art museum's. Art does not mean just drawing and painting. It means the development of creativity; it means approaching problems in a unique way...something we are in short supply of today.

For a guy who touted himself as the "jobs" and "education" governor, he certainly IS doing a JOB on the citizens of the commonwealth and their children.

Va is a low-tax state. Teacher salaries are falling further and further behind the rest of the country (and he wants to open charter schools to compete with public schools...where is he going to get the money to fund them?) He is willing to compromise public safety mental health services and children's health. For a guy who wears his religion on his sleeve, his empathy for others leaves a lot to be desired.

He is what he is...a politically ambitious ultra-conservative with higher aspirations. He is willing to sell the children, the citizens of this state to bottom-dwelling scavengers while he pursues his own lofty ambitions.

Posted by: ilcn | February 13, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Republican National Agenda...

Barefoot, pregnant and ignorant...

Gilmore junior begins the further distruction of Virginia...haven't recovered from Gilmore senior yet and Repubs. are at it again.

Posted by: changeisconstant | February 13, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

""Pregnant teens shouldn't be pregnant. Some of us are tired of paying their way"

There is a simple solution ... mandatory abortion.

Posted by: knjincvc | February 13, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey folks ... stop worrying about education. China and India's combined population of 2.4 billion people will soon be graduating 300 million college grads. The U.S. will soon be able to import all the educated people it needs which will enable the country to save a whole lot of money and cut taxes.

Posted by: knjincvc | February 13, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Bob McDonnell - another bait and switch Republican governor. Promise all sorts of good things during the campaign, then immediately turn into the Grinch who stole education and health care from those less able to pay, and transportation from us all. At some point taxes will have to be on the table to support the infrastructure which supports all Virginians.

Posted by: lpryluck1 | February 13, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there Va. McDonnell can only do SO MUCH damage to your education system and infrastructure in one term. He's surely wasting no time, though.

Education and children's insurance are the first to go, huh?

Posted by: free-donny | February 13, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Hang in there Va. McDonnell can only do SO MUCH damage to your education system and infrastructure in one term. He's surely wasting no time, though.

Education and children's insurance are the first to go, huh?

Posted by: free-donny | February 13, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I applaud his move to cut programs for the poor. I will also applaud any of his attempts to reduce and refuse federal subsidies to allow our state to become and remain financially untethered from the Federal Government.

The sooner this happens, the better.

On the Price of Corn, and Management of the Poor - Benjamin Franklin

"For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing (ref. The first part of the letter at the link below related to subsidizing the poor).

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. -- I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.

In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? --

On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependance on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty.

Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday, and St. Tuesday, will cease to be holidays. SIX days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them."

The full letter (for the top reference to subsidizing) can be found here:

Posted by: indep2 | February 13, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Cut the FAMIS health program all together. The state shouldn't be providing health insurance to anyone.

Posted by: ahashburn | February 13, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? He's going to close 40% of the gap basically by getting rid of the "standards of quality" -- which basically means school systems who can't afford an adequate basic education won't be able to provide it. Way to go McDonnell.

But we've got rest stops, everyone! It's much more important to be able to pull over and pee than to provide education for our children!

Posted by: zenetanar | February 13, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

What's important is that for a 50,000 dollar campaign contribution, Northrup-Grumman will get 150 million extra dollars over the next four years on a contract they are legally and morally in default on.

That's 37.5 million EXTRA per year for the next four years! An informal agreement has already been reached.

Of course Most state agencies have laid off workers, have slashed budgets and services(OF course Micky-D "You can have it for free!" already re-opened the rest stops). Raises are and have been none existent for the last few years and for the foreseeable future. Maintenance on the highways such as grass cutting and repaving will be curtailed -All so we can add 37 Million more to the several HUNDRED MILLION this company, already in default on their contract.

WoW! fifty thousand dollars buys a lot of politician~

Posted by: maxtor0 | February 13, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Our federal government in Washington should be helping Virginia.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 13, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Livinginthepromisedland said:

"Someone has to stand up and act like an adult."

And you think it's going to be any politician? Anywhere? From any party?


Posted by: mssnatchquatch | February 13, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

cschotta1 said:

"How about getting a better education, a better job...."

The 2 jobs (3 when I'm lucky enough to get the extra work) I have now pay for a roof over my head, keeping the lights and heat turned on, food, and transportation to work. There's nothing left for luxuries like tuition. (And before you ask, I do not have kids.)

But if you want me to get a better education, I accept your generous offer to pay for it.

It's a symbol of hope to know that in these difficult economic times, there are people who are able to afford luxury items such as a higher education and their own health insurance.

Posted by: mssnatchquatch | February 13, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I guess some children can be left behind.

Posted by: Nymous | February 13, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait until this hit the news BIG TIME.
Leaving children to bear the entire cost of fixing the budget while asking NOTHING, NADA, ZERO from the extremely rich will be great for McDonnell and his evil republican friends in the short term, but should consign these awful people to the dustbin of history in the long term.
C'mon, Bob, propose these cuts in public, already.
Or are you a slimeball chickenshi*?

Posted by: jeffc6578 | February 13, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mark0004

"Irregardless" is not a word. For that matter, neither is "irregardlesss." I guess you needed those SOQs!

Posted by: Jeffreyp1 | February 13, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

as a former trustee of a va university, chairman of finance committee, may i suggest that these universities have the wherewithall to buy palatial homes for employees, develop shopping centers with 100% financing, backed by yours-truly recourse, "convocation centers", health clubs, dorms, apt complexes, the list goes on.(with our money). "Their Money", the state funds, go to the classrooms, labs etc. Meanwhile, the Market Rate for tuition is approx $35,000/yr vs subsidized public univ rate of $16-$18K/yr.
The tuition gap between public/private need to come together

Posted by: tripferguson1 | February 13, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Really? You guys are shocked by this? This is the typical Republican action. Keep the people stupid so that they are too ignorant to not vote for us..
Funny how well it works..

Posted by: phorse | February 13, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have been high fiving themselves for taking the governorship of two bankrupt states so I can't wait to see what the NJ governor is going to do to balance the budget.

Posted by: knjincvc | February 13, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, any state in the Union that has a reputation, or track record for handing out welfare benefits is going to start accruing citizens at a record pace, especially in these interesting economic times. Wherever they hand out a lot of state benefits, everyone else that lives there and has some kind of money, some kind of job, is going to eventually be impacted by higher taxes to pay for it all, and failing that, that state will be going to Washington, which in this example is right down the street, hat-in-hand, to beg more federal funding. At what point do voters and legislators say 'no more'?

Posted by: walkerbert | February 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Reading this post and the comments to follow has truly concerned me.

Am I correct in saying that these same republicans are pro-life and balk at the thought of abortion. After all every child has a right to live.

So now these same people are saying that once these children are here they don't deserve healthcare or an education.

How is it okay to bring a child into the world then not provide them with a chance to better their lives.

Posted by: dreamweaver21us | February 15, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

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