FAIRFAX CHILD CARE
Connolly Faults GOP Over Lost Funds
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Less than two weeks after the GOP-controlled General Assembly approved a state budget, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) denounced the county's Republican state delegates yesterday over the House's failure to fund day care for about 1,900 low-income Fairfax children.
As Connolly was accusing Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) of "doing the dirty work" for House Republicans in "denying his own community" millions of dollars, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) went to a Charlottesville YMCA day-care center, where he met with working mothers whose children might lose subsidies.
It was the first stop on a statewide tour aimed at making voters aware of the fallout from the House's stripping $22 million in proposed amendments from the budget. Republicans said they considered some of the money to be pork.
House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said yesterday that Kaine "wants to play partisan politics again, and that's what this was all about."
"He claims to be the transportation governor, but he wants to spend every penny the state has on everything else, no matter what that may be," Griffith said.
Also yesterday, Virginia Democrats said they had launched a campaign of automated phone calls to voters in Fairfax targeting GOP delegates who voted against the budget amendments.
The calls, sponsored by the Joint Democratic Caucus, are "educational for the constituents, to let them know how their delegate voted" during the worst stalemate in the legislature's history, said Matt Mansell, director of the House Democratic Caucus. "There's been a lot of attention paid to those Northern Virginia delegates and what they have and haven't done for their constituents."
The recording tells voters that the delegate in question "voted against child care for 1,900 low-income children" and against funding to prevent sewage from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, a reference to a project in Lynchburg to clean water flowing into the James River.
The child-care money at issue would have supported local subsidies for working parents after the loss of federal grant funds. For several years, the federal money had gone to Fairfax and a few other localities, including Loudoun County and Alexandria, because they were willing to provide matching funds when the state was not. But this year, Congress tightened work requirements for families on public assistance, and Virginia decided it needed to use the federal money to provide more child-care assistance for those families.
To help out the local child-care programs for working parents, Kaine asked the General Assembly to appropriate $6 million this year, most of it for Fairfax, which is losing $13 million. But the child-care funding was killed last month when the House rejected 20 of 36 amendments to the two-year budget, removing almost $22 million for projects across the state.
"This is a potentially catastrophic loss," Connolly said at yesterday's meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which is dominated, 7 to 3, by Democrats. "At the same time, the General Assembly was cutting this $22 million, they were approving an estate tax cut that will benefit about 800 families in the state of Virginia."
Albo, who made the motion in the House to eliminate the extra money, took the harshest criticism. Told of Connolly's comments, he fired right back. "When he takes a swipe at me, he doesn't tell anyone that I said these are very worthy projects," the delegate said.