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Short session to begin Jan. 13

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 it 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 last only 30 days and begins Wednesday, Jan. 13. 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 the session to 45 days 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-numbered years, the governor and members of the General Assembly can offer amendments to the budget 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.

Gov. Ralph 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, Gov. 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 the help they need now, not just promises of help down the road at some point.

I agree with House Republican Todd Gilbert’s statement: “Gov. Northam’s budget proposals are extremely disappointing. Rather than face the very real crisis facing our students, Gov. 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.”

DEL. TOMMY WRIGHT can be reached via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.