adidas football socks area legislators eye budget as next front in fight to keep CVTC open
While the package of bills proposed by Lynchburg area legislators in both chambers to keep Central Virginia Training Center open has an uncertain future, all eyes are on upcoming budget deliberations where the fight to keep the facility’s doors open will continue.
Tuesday morning, the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to continue SB 835 carried by Sen. Mark Peake, R Lynchburg, and aimed at preventing the facility’s closure to the General Assembly’s 2019 session with a nod from Committee Chair Sen. Emmett Hanger, R Augusta, that discussions about the possibility of funding CVTC will be a factor in budget talks.
In a phone interview later Tuesday, Peake said the aim is to continue operations at the state run facility for individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities on a limited basis. The number of residents being cared for at CVTC has been dropping steadily from 426 in March 2010 to 113 as of last month.
“We’re going to keep fighting to get the money necessary from the budget to keep it open,
” Peake said. Department of Justice that stemmedfrom an investigation by the department into the facility. As part of the agreement, the state decided to close four of its five training centers in favor of moving the majority of those under state care to community group homes. Southwest Virginia Training Center in Hillsville is scheduled to close July 1, 2018.
Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake is the only training center the state is keeping open after the settlement agreement required the state to create a community based system of care.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House Health and Human Resources Appropriations subcommittee heard discussion on four bills seeking to keep various training centers open but did not take any action. This includes HB 1421 carried by Del. Scott Garrett, R Lynchburg, mirroring Peake’s bill to prevent CVTC’s closure.
Other bills up for discussion included HB 324 and HB 325 from Del. Jeffrey Campbell, R Marion, that seek to prevent the closure of both SWVTC and CVTC,
as well as a bill from Del. Israel O’Quinn that would keep open both SWVTC and SEVTC.
According to Garrett, who chairs the subcommittee, the bills will continue to be discussed by the subcommittee and the Appropriations Committee up until crossover, scheduled for Feb. 13, when all bills passed by the House will head to the Senate and vice versa.
Because the budget will determine what resources the state has to keep the training centers open, Garrett said there still are a lot of “moving parts” around what will happen to the training center legislation and the push to change the state’s course as it moves closer to shuttering four out of the five facilities.
“There is still uncertainty on what the final iteration [of the budget] should look like,” Garrett said in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “These bills continue to be vehicles to allow the further conversations until we have more clarity regarding the budget itself. Until we can get some clarity and until we find out the resources we will have in the budget, we are in a holding pattern with these issues.”
The bills are not the only weapons in the arsenal for Peake,
Garrett and Sen. Steve Newman, R Bedford County, to keep CVTC open. In the Senate, Peake and Newman also filed Senate budget amendments that support the training center remaining open. The amendment from Newman requests a report be prepared by DBHDS and the Virginia Department of the Treasury to determine the cost of paying off all of the bonds related to the future closures of SWVTC and CVTC.
Peake’s budget amendments request $250,000 in fiscal year 2018 and another $570,000 in fiscal year 2019 to fund the completion of the second phase of an environmental site assessment report of CVTC as well as the first phase of environmental remediation to remove known contaminants on the property.
In the House, Garrett submitted a budget amendment that requests $820,000 in fiscal year 2019 to conduct the second phase of the environmental site assessment and to begin the cleanup recommended in the original assessment.
An environmental assessment of CVTC released to the public in November by the Virginia Department of General Services reported sites on the property in need of cleanup that include a four acre sanitary landfill that operated from 1950 through the 1970s,
two scrap yards, a dump for coal ash and other debris as well as bulk pesticide and oil storage in one of the facility’s buildings.