5-year-old boy testifies on Va. budget - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

5-year-old boy testifies on Va. budget

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A small panel of Virginia legislators heard testimony Friday from a five-year-old boy. The topic: spending on early childhood intervention. The speaker was a recipient of those services.

When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell unveiled his proposed budget for the next two fiscal years, it did not include an increase in funding for programs for young children who (at some point) are developmentally delayed.

Five-year-old Bryan Holtzer, who was in foster care for the first two-and-a-half years of his life, benefited from a state-funded early intervention program. His adoptive mother brought Bryan to testify on the issue.

The panel of Virginia legislators was astonished when the five-year-old boy (with only a little help from his mother) read his testimony. Holtzer told the legislators that the intervention made a difference in his young life: "I was walking, talking clearly, and was ... able to express myself very well at a very young age. I ask you to provide funding for this program."

Young Bryan was one of many Virginia citizens who implored the legislators to spend more on social services, including accepting the Obamacare option of expanding Medicaid.

In Virginia, it's currently hard to qualify for Medicaid. Woodbridge resident Brush Smith told the legislative panel: "A 50-year-old mother with a child (making $4,700 a year) does not qualify for Medicaid because her income is 'too high.'"

The leaders of the teachers unions from both Fairfax and Prince William Counties asked for more state support for educators.

"Virginia's teachers' average salary lags behind the national average by more than $6,500," Jim Livingston the president of the Prince William Education Association testified. "Teachers with ten years of classroom experience today make an average nine percent less in net pay than in 2009."

On the other hand, long-time anti-tax activist James Parmelee decried the growth of state spending in Virginia: "From 2000 to 2012, [state spending] has almost doubled. So I'm here to speak on behalf of taking a look at the budget to determine where we can spend our money more wisely, as opposed to continue to take more money from the overburdened taxpayers of Virginia."

The General Assembly begins its winter session on Wednesday.

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