Covid-19 has driven home the vital connection between environmental protection and public health. Virginia’s budget should prioritize parks, trails and open spaces, restore water quality and strengthen our local food systems.
I generally write to you during the winter, that period between January and March when the Virginia legislature comes together for the General Assembly session. But recent events have brought about the need for a “special” legislative session.
Beginning August 18 (end date tbd), the General Assembly special session will focus on budget impacts related to the pandemic, as well as calls for criminal justice and policing reforms as local and national unrest continues following the death of George Floyd.
First, the good news. Virginia’s projected pandemic-related budget deficit is much less than was originally anticipated ($236 million vs the $1+ billion shortfall originally projected). Therefore, the Governor has introduced a budget that calls for no additional cuts and that largely reflects what was passed in the reconvened session in March (when new funding from the 2020 session was suspended).
However, any time our elected officials get together, particularly during lean times, programs that protect the environment are often singled out for cuts. Your legislators need to hear from you now on the importance of funding that supports conservation of our natural resources, access to nature, protects water quality and provides numerous public health benefits.
Urge them now to support conservation and environmental protection in the budget. The special session starts on August 18.
As always, thank you for being an advocate on behalf of this generation and the next. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly.
Director of State Policy
The Piedmont Environmental Council
This text was taken from a PEC email alert sent out on August 13, 2020. Sign up for email alerts >>