Overhaul Outdated Funding Formulas
For years, legislators in Richmond have tweaked the funding formulas for our public schools with disastrous results. Students across the Commonwealth lose out on $800 million every year. We need to restore pre K-12 funding to at least pre-recession levels. Virginia must also change the funding formula so that school divisions with declining enrollment like Giles and Pulaski won’t lose out on needed resources from the state.
Attract The Best Teachers To Our Schools
Virginia is ranked 29th in the country in average teacher pay. That’s not acceptable. Teachers in Virginia earn, on average, about $7,000 less than other educators around the country. But it’s worse in the 12th District; teachers in Giles County make about $10,000 less than just the state average.
Reduce the Burden of Standardized Testing
Virginia has improved the way our teachers, schools, and students are evaluated but there is still more work to be done. Study after study has shown that Virginia’s method of testing our students is inadequate. Any universal testing should be done to track the growth of students. As your Delegate, I will fight to give freedom back to school divisions while still ensuring success for all students.
Expanding Medicaid would bring $12.2 million in new spending and over 200 jobs to the 12th District. More importantly, thousands of our neighbors would have access to healthcare coverage for the first time. Forget the politics, expanding Medicaid makes both moral and economic sense.
I am a journalist. Not a doctor. Any decisions regarding women and their health care need to be made by the woman, in consultation with her family if she chooses, and her doctor. These decisions shouldn’t be made by lawmakers in Richmond.
Fight the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis is a battle that’s become all too familiar for our District, with too many lives already lost. We must expand access to life-saving treatment options and medications. We have to change the stigma around substance-use disorders and address the crisis as an illness, not just a series of poor choices.
Expanding Medicaid would directly impact and increase access to mental healthcare in Virginia. In addition, we need to give our police officers, sheriff’s deputies, fire departments and rescue squads the training and resources they need to handle mental health crises. Rural communities like ours face especially tough circumstances. Individuals in crisis are often transferred to treatment centers on the opposite side of the Commonwealth on their own dime. We must fundamentally change the way we view and treat mental illness. Virginia has to address the lack of rural mental health care providers and reinvest in support for our state hospitals.
Reduce Gun Violence
We must change the way we address the thousands of Virginians who die each year by bullets from guns. I think we do that by realizing this is a public health crisis because more people in the commonwealth die from gun violence than in car crashes. My focus remains on those most susceptible to homicide and suicide from firearms. I will work to protect men and women of color in cities from dying on the streets, to help women find safety after taking the courageous move to leave a dangerous relationship and to encourage parents to make sure children don’t have unsupervised access to a gun. As someone who has been personally touched by this issue, I will take the same objective, pragmatic approach to investigating solutions as I had when I worked as a journalist.
Attracting Jobs to the NRV
With Southwest Virginia’s largest economic engine and one of the world’s leaders in innovation sitting in our backyard, we are in a very unique position to attract more good-paying jobs to the 12th District. As we continue to attract the nation’s brightest minds, our local and state governments need to do all they can to keep that talent right here in the New River Valley. That means creating opportunities for small businesses and innovations while evaluating regulations that can deter growth. My number one priority as your Delegate will be to make sure this happens.
Access to Broadband
There are many parts of the district where access to broadband internet is limited or nonexistent. In our digital world, the Commonwealth is doing all of us a disservice by not investing in the infrastructure and technology to bring broadband access to rural communities. By partnering with new businesses who are doing this great work day in and day out, I hope we can finally solve this problem for Southwest Virginia.
Protecting Our Natural Resources
For generations, families in the New River Valley have respected and protected their land. From the pristine waters of Wolf Creek to the untouched natural beauty of Pearis Mountain, our land is our most valuable resource. We must resist any threat to our rivers, streams, and forests. I stand proudly with landowners in their fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and will always be the first to sound the alarm when our water and soil is in danger of contamination.
Transforming Our Energy Sources
For too long, our representatives in Richmond have stalled the transformation of how we power our homes and businesses. By removing restrictions on how Virginians get our energy, we can bring more investments in renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal. We must increase diversity and competition in our energy mix to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and lower utility bills.