Shortfall forces cuts in Va. budget deal

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- After four months of gridlock, Virginia is expected to have a budget soon. Lawmakers arrived back in Richmond Thursday afternoon to hammer out a deal and they are working into the night.

The break in the impasse came about after Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett resigned on Monday, flipping control of the Senate to Republicans, who disagree with Democrats on Medicaid expansion.

The revised two-year budget includes about $900 million in cuts to offset a revenue shortfall now projected at $1.55 billion.

To make up the rest of the shortfall, lawmakers will use the state's Rainy Day Fund — but a budget has to be in place by June 31 to do so.

The shortfall means that teachers and state employees will not see raises yet again.

"This would've been their first raise in years. But we don't have the money. The revenues went down, not up," said Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax.

There's no money for expanding Pre-K or affordable housing and a $35.3 million adjustment to reimburse hospitals for inflation is gone. So is $3 million for free clinics.

"There's not much to like in this budget," said Howell.

Democrats had wanted to include Medicaid Expansion in the budget to bring healthcare to 400,000 low-income residents, but most Republicans have bitterly opposed the plan, including the Senate's Marketplace Virginia version of it.

But democrats are hoping Governor Terry McAuliffe will move to expand Medicaid without the legislature,by way of executive order.

Republican Senators are furious that language that might allow the Governor to expand Medicaid, is actually being written in the budget approved by the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Spotsylvania, said that the language can interpreted as giving the governor authority to expand Medicaid.

"What I do have a problem with is slipping it in under the door and then, Whoops!" complained Sen. Dick Black, D-Loudoun. He planned to introduce a measure to add language specifically preventing the Governor from expanding Medicaid.

"There is actually a plan to litigate what we know the Governor's going to do," said Black.

One bright spot in the budget is that there is more money for mental health, to help ensure that what happened to Creigh Deed's son, who attacked his father and killed himself after being denied care, never happens again.

Written by Peggy Fox


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment