Possible Hope to Save CCCA

By: Haley Harrison Email
By: Haley Harrison Email

In the weeks since Gov. Tim Kaine announced his plans to cover a budget shortfall, people have been wondering what would happen to the children and workers at the Commonwealth's Center for Children and Adolescents.

Legislators returned to Richmond Wednesday for a short session that was dominated by debate on how to plug a $3-billion hole in the state's two-year budget.

The budget was passed last year, but a crumbling economy has left the Commonwealth with less money coming in than legislators planned.

Kaine proposed taking money from education and health care, drawing down money from the state's rainy day fund and doubling the 30-cent-per-pack cigarette tax.

Legislators have 46 days to figure out how to keep the state's budget balanced, as required by law and local legislators are already working to salvage CCCA.

In his budget proposal, Kaine calls for the closure of the mental health institution but Valley lawmakers say they may have found a way to save the hospital.

Del. Chris Saxman (R-20th) says he's crunched the numbers and found the $6 million needed to keep the hospital afloat.

He says, "Other states have done this, closed their primary care, their acute psychiatric center for children, hospital if you will and gone back because they realize the private sector can't provide all the services that CCCA does and that's what we have to protect."

Details of the proposal and from where the $6 million will come will be revealed once Saxman introduces his proposal. However, Saxman also says that saving CCCA will require sacrifice.

"To a person at that facility, it's not about their jobs, it's about the children," says Saxman. "If we have to move it, they're fine with that. They just want these kids to be cared for."

In response to Saxman's proposal, Staunton City Council member Bruce Elder says, "I'm delighted to hear of that. I'm delighted to hear that Del. Saxman has been on top of this issue. And I also want to praise Steve Landis, a delegate to the east of us, who has also come out strongly in support."

While the conversation has just begun, it is a ray of hope for patients, parents and the 200 people employed at the hospital.

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