In The Press
Torian, who stepped down as chairman this month after Republicans regained control of the House, confessed his frustration over Youngkin’s negative view of a state economy with one big revenue surplus in the bank and another apparently on the way, record financial reserves, low unemployment, and successive rankings by CNBC as the best state for business.
“Do you think that the Virginia economy is in the ditch?” he asked Cummings. “And if you believe it’s not, can you certainly use your influence to help the governor change his narrative? Because … the previous administration transitioned to this new administration an economy that’s in pretty darn good shape.”
House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, said Virginia will emerge from the pandemic “as a national leader in financial stewardship,” with a record $3.3 billion in financial reserves by mid-2023 — three times what they were when Democrats took over the House two years ago. But Torian said state policymakers still must proceed with caution, “because we know we have to prepare for the unseen.”
“We legalized cannabis, abolished the death penalty, raised the minimum wage, made higher education much more affordable, and so much more,” Torian said.
Torian said that some of his proudest achievements have been taking steps to end surprise medical billing in Virginia, passing a budget that included a 5% pay raise for teachers, working to protect low-income homeowners from foreclosure and eviction, and expanding Medicaid.
In announcing his run, Torian said he leads the [House Appropriations] committee with “an emphasis on accessible higher education and responsible economic development.” In reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted he presided over the Virginia budget “during the worst national economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
“We funded expanded health care access, instituted protections for tenants and frontline workers, and safeguarded school budgets while maintaining Virginia’s strong fiscal standing,” Torian said.
“It goes without saying that no child should be asked to learn where they can’t breathe. Now that it seems the coronavirus will be with us for another school year, the urgency of clean air flowing into our classrooms is even more apparent. This task is one of the many crucial, transformative statewide infrastructure projects included in the stimulus package recently passed by Virginia’s General Assembly.”
“As Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I’m particularly proud of this budget and the support it provides to families who have struggled throughout the pandemic. . . . While other states are using their stimulus funds to simply stay afloat, Virginia’s strong fiscal standing enabled us to pass a relief package that will uplift our working families. Your majorities in the General Assembly are building a stronger, more just and more equitable commonwealth — and we’re just getting started.”
Prince William Del. Luke Torian, D-52nd, who also pushed for the study funding in the state budget, said he wants to see the report produce the building blocks for a viable transit solution along the corridor, and one that can go hand-in-hand with the already-planned VRE service improvements being undertaken by the state.
“We would love to have Metro here, and we’ve been fighting for that for a long time,” Torian told InsideNoVa. “We’re not exactly sure what that’s going to look like in the future, but we need to have the kind of transportation improvements that’ll be beneficial to the second-largest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
“Funding for broadband is more critical now than ever,” said Delegate Luke Torian, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We must continue to ensure that all citizens of the commonwealth have access to quality internet access.”
“Now that our doors are open and our lights are on, I am confident that Virginia Tourism will use this funding to reboot our tourism economy and bring people in from across the nation and beyond,” Del. Luke Torian (D-Prince William County) said in the release.
Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, who sponsored the Community Policing Act, said . . . “Now we can hopefully do a better job of policing our community.”
A demand for more vaccine equity seems to have been heard in Prince William County as a new temporary vaccination site opens at a church Thursday on the east side of the county.
“We began to raise our voices, collectively, and as a result of that change came,” Torian said.
House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, said the budget “will protect our public schools from lost funding, address our students’ lost learning, and maintain affordable access to our colleges and universities.”
“Approximately 45% of Virginia’s workforce does not have access to a retirement savings plan at work. VirginiaSaves will afford workers a retirement savings vehicle at no cost and no liability to private employers. This is an opportunity for more Virginia workers to build long-term savings not tied to a single employer,” said Torian.
Budget conference committees are about compromise. And as the Chairman of the House budget committee Delegate Luke Torian had a role in finding some.
“On the House side with the Democrats, we were looking at certainly a pay increase for our teachers,” Torian noted.
“This budget’s first goal is to help pave Virginia’s way out of the pandemic, fully funding vaccine distribution efforts,” House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, told the House. “It will foster financial security for all Virginia families through a redoubled emphasis on workers’ rights, much-deserved pay raises, and paid sick leave for our front-line workforce,” Torian said. “It will protect our public schools from lost funding resulting from COVID-19 and maintain affordable access to our colleges and universities.”
Lawmakers and Northam are aiming to restore some previous budget cuts enacted last year and fund the ongoing response to the pandemic. Both proposals include a deposit in the state’s rainy day fund.
“We are restoring more funding to key priorities and looking forward at Virginia’s needs in 2022 and beyond,” House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian said in a statement.
“With a brighter revenue forecast and a clearer path out of the pandemic, this budget will continue the work of the last special session to build a safer, healthier, and more equitable commonwealth,” said Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
“VirginiaSaves will afford workers a retirement savings vehicle at no cost and no liability to private employers,” Torian said. “This is an opportunity for all Virginia workers to build long-term savings not tied to a single employer.”
The bill from McClellan and Torian would also impact mobile home communities. The bill requires landlords to provide safe living conditions and puts a requirement on local governments to include the preservation and maintenance of mobile homes in their comprehensive plans “in recognition of the value of manufactured home communities as an important part of the stock of affordable housing.”
“This commission’s objectives will be even more important now in light of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on small and minority-owned businesses,” said Torian (D-Dumfries), who is also chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. “We’re looking forward to getting to work in the interest of minority business owners across Virginia. Increased diversity in our small, homegrown enterprises can only strengthen the commonwealth.”
“I have a proven record of leadership at home and in Richmond. Since 2010, I have brought our shared values to the General Assembly, fighting to improve our public schools and transportation infrastructure and uplift Virginia’s military families and working people,” Torian said.
Yet, some sound legislative leadership has emerged in the form of Senate Finance Committee Chair Janet Howell and House Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Torian. Together with Layne, they’ve worked out differences and made an effective team.
“Under reduced revenues and challenging circumstances for the people of Virginia, this budget offers a roadmap toward a safer, healthier, more just and equitable commonwealth,” said Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Even though state revenues are down significantly, the bay is essential economically and ecologically, said House Appropriations Committee chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William.
“We were called into Special Session with the mandate to close a $2.8 billion shortfall while tackling the economic and public health demands of the pandemic and making overdue reforms to our criminal justice system. This budget achieves that,” wrote Del. Luke Torian (D-Prince William), the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
“The pandemic has hit our most vulnerable citizens the hardest, exacerbating the divide between the haves and the have nots,” said Del. Luke Torian, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “It is our responsibility to help this population.”
Democratic lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee voted in favor of a bill that would let voters correct mistakes on absentee ballot envelopes, direct registrars and localities to set up drop off locations and provide $2 million in prepaid postage for the return of absentee ballots.
“Any changes we make to facilitate secure and efficient voting must be put in place as soon as possible in time for the election,” says committee chair Delegate Luke Torian.
“Surprise medical bills can cause financial instability and unfairly put patients in the middle of provider-insurer disputes,” added Torian. “I am proud we were able to come together in Virginia to pass a solution that takes patients out of the middle, ensures health care providers are reimbursed for the care they provide, and protects Virginia families. Now, insured Virginians will be able to access health care with confidence, knowing there won’t be a surprise bill coming if a treatment or provider wasn’t covered under their insurance plan.”
House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, is intensifying pressure on Gov. Ralph Northam to use federal emergency coronavirus aid to provide hazard pay and paid leave to health attendants who have no backup if they get sick while caring for elderly and disabled Virginians in their homes. . . . “Some may wonder whether the roadblocks to providing this pandemic support to home care workers would be more easily navigated if the vast majority were not double minorities,” he said in the two-page letter. “Women of color are, still, being asked to care for our most vulnerable without adequate protection or just compensation for themselves. . . . Home care workers have told us what they need,” he said. “Federal funding allows us to meet their requests while our state budget remains in limbo.”
House of Delegates Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Torian, D-Prince William, issued a statement Thursday that he is “pleased to see these numbers, all things considered. This does not mean we’re looking ahead to the same comfortable biennium that we were last January. Better-than-expected, in this case, is still a long way from 2019 forecasts. Virginia households are still hurting.”
“Home care workers cannot practice social distancing in the workplace, and they cannot stop going to work,” House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, wrote to Northam last month in support of a request for aid by the Service Employees International Union, which represents the attendants. “Not only do their patients rely on their care, but the low pay does not facilitate an unpaid leave of absence,” Torian told the governor.
The new law, known as the Community Policing Act, was sponsored by Del. Luke Torian, D-52nd, of Woodbridge, and approved by the General Assembly in March. It prohibits the Virginia State Police and local police and sheriff’s departments from engaging in bias-based profiling and requires officers to collect and report additional data pertaining to motor vehicle or investigatory stops that will be compiled in a statewide database.
“We made history today,” Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “This session the Appropriations Committee worked to create a budget that would reflect the values and the needs of all Virginians. We aimed to raise employee compensation, increase workforce equity, and make health care and higher education more accessible for all Virginians.”
“Our budget includes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and workers’ rights. We are increasing equitable access to higher education through a historic funding package,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William.
“This budget is the most progressive in Virginia’s history,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian, D-Woodbridge, said in a news release. “It will guard Virginia’s AAA bond rating and shore up our reserves while advancing equity of opportunity across the Commonwealth and helping rather than hindering every Virginian’s ability to thrive.”
Carried by Senator Barbara Favola and Delegate Luke Torian, the new legislation says when an insurance company and a medical provider can’t agree on the cost of a service, they may seek to have the State Corporation Commission arbitrate the case.
“For too long Virginia has touted our status as a top state to do business while neglecting the rights and opportunities of those working in the Commonwealth,” House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian said in a statement Monday.
House Appropriations Committee chairman Luke Torian, D-Prince William, whose balance billing legislation was one of the bases for the compromise, said patients should be able to get care without getting a surprise bill afterwards. “Surprise bills can cause financial instability for Virginia families and unfairly put patients in the middle of provider-insurer disputes,” he said in a statement.
Del. Luke Torian has been chosen to lead one of the Virginia House of Delegates’ most powerful committees: that which helps hammer out the annual state budget. . . . “I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve in this capacity and humbled that the speaker-designee would recognize the work I have done.”
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