Virginia Is One Step Closer To Finalizing a State Budget

A Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly passed a state budget late Thursday night – one that doesn’t include Medicaid, one of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s top priorities.

Medicaid has been a hot topic during the state budget discussions. McAuliffe has sworn previously that he would not sign a budget that didn’t provide health care for 400,000 uninsured Virginians. Other Democrats agree that expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do.

All but three Republicans, on the other hand, are doubtful that the federal government would be able to provide its promised $2 billion every year for the heath care program. That would be a huge cost to absorb, especially since Virginia is expected to have a $1.5 billion shortfall over the two-year budget period “due to a miscalculation of capital gains tax revenue,” according to the Washington Post.

The budget that was passed through the General Assembly will maintain current spending levels to accommodate the shortfall, which means that Medicaid was slashed from the plan.

Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) was particularly hell-bent on making sure that Medicaid could not be expanded for the next two years. He was concerned about vague language in the budget proposal that may have provided a loophole for the expansion, but he ultimately eliminated it from the final budget plan. Democrats and Republicans alike are convinced that Medicaid expansion would not be possible for the next two years under this state budget, according to the Washington Post.

McAuliffe now has seven days to make changes and send it back to the legislature, so it remains to be seen whether or not he will accept the lack of Medicaid expansion. However, the July 1 deadline adds pressure and urgency to the decision.

“When this budget reaches my desk I will evaluate it carefully and take the actions that I deem necessary, but this fight is far from over,” said McAuliffe immediately after the vote according to the Washington Post. “This is the right thing to do for Virginia, and I will not rest until we get it done.”

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