Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: As We Head Back to Richmond, Many Issues Facing Virginia

By Jennifer Boysko

It’s been my honor to represent the 86th district in the Virginia House of Delegates in one of the most diverse communities in Virginia. As we head back to Richmond, we will work to create a Commonwealth that works for all of us and still be fiscally responsible. Education, jobs, a family-friendly economy, affordable and efficient transportation are important issues for us all. We can only work and enjoy our lives if we are safe and healthy. Our health depends on access to affordable healthcare — Medicaid expansion is a life saver for the nearly 400,000 adults who can now access our healthcare system. Voting for Medicaid expansion was arguably the most important vote I have ever taken. We must continue to work for healthcare for all Virginians, including protecting the rights of women to reproductive healthcare. There is one way to ensure that we have quality education, good jobs, family-friendly economic policies, affordable transportation, gun sense legislation, and affordable healthcare — we must all vote. It was your decision to get involved that made these changes possible. And our votes must all count — we must pass legislation to establish an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission to prepare for the 2021 redistricting that follows the 2020 federal Census.

Education is a top priority for me. Some of our schools are in great shape — the students and teachers are thriving and the neighborhoods are safe. Students at other schools are not so fortunate — students come to school hungry and need help with weekend meals, clothing, and school supplies. As a member of the House Education Committee, I have worked to ensure that we increase funding of schools. We need to pay our teachers fairly so that they do not need to take second jobs or live far from where they work. I am impressed by the innovations undertaken at our local schools and we are also fortunate to have fine colleges and universities — we must work to ensure that students can afford higher education without the burden of debt. NOVA offers high quality, affordable education.

All of us need good jobs. I support legislation that will create a family-friendly economy in Virginia. We have worked hard to attract diverse businesses to Virginia as we move away from dependence on the federal government. With a highly educated workforce, we have many high-paying jobs. With Amazon HQ2 coming to Northern Virginia it will reshape the economy. The Dulles Corridor is thriving with high-tech industries like Orbital and Northrop Grumman working on the cutting edge of satellite development, pharmaceutical companies, and renewable energy technologies. However, we must not forget about our workers who are not paid fairly — we have workers who struggle on a daily basis. I’ve met with workers at our airports who sleep at the airport because they do not earn enough to go back and forth and who juggle multiple jobs. In Richmond, we can pass legislation for a fair wage. We can also eliminate the exceptions to our minimum wage law that are remnants of our racist Jim Crow laws. Equal pay for equal work is another important issue. We need to pass a paid leave bill that allows workers to take care of their families and themselves that supports businesses and workers by using an insurance model. No one should have to choose between work and caring for a new or sick family member and no one should come to work sick.

Virginians overwhelming support gun sense legislation. Each year, legislators offer gun sense bills and a small group of Republicans kill the bills that would keep our families safer. They can do this because they have control of the General Assembly. We need to change the seats of those who obstruct these common sense initiatives.

Our health also depends on access to clean air and clean water. We need legislation that supports our transition to 100 percent renewable energy and reduces our dependence on gasoline-powered vehicles.

There are many other issues that we can solve in Richmond. With a Democratic Governor and close numbers in the House and Senate, we are on the cusp of making meaningful change. With the majority in the General Assembly, we will pass legislation to provide protections, an equal playing field, and truly be a Virginia that works for all. We know what is needed to pass this legislation — redistricting rather than gerrymandering and making it easier for all citizens to vote — these bills will pass too when the Democrats retake the General Assembly. I encourage residents to use their voices, come to Richmond and share your stories. You have the power to make a difference in the future of Virginia.

 


Delegate Jennifer Boysko (D), is running for the 33rd State Senate seat in a special election to be held on January 8, 2019 to replace Congresswoman-Elect Jennifer Wexton.