Friday, June 13, 2014

Bouncing budget bill now in Gov. McAuliffe’s court

web_McAuliffe1-300x224What will Governor Terry McAuliffe do when the budget hits his desk.

Virginia’s budget passed the Senate 20-19 after nine hours of an on-again, off-again special session that started at 3:00 p.m. (Democrat Sen. Lynwood Lewis changed his vote from yea to nay making it a party line vote result). The June 30 deadline loomed large.

Senator Phil Puckett resigned suddenly leaving control of the Senate to the Republicans and making him responsible for the defeat of Medicaid expansion in the near term.

House Minority Leader David Toscano of Charlottesville called for an investigation into Delegate Terry Kilgore’s offer of a cushy job for Phil Puckett on the state Tobacco Commission. The commission doles out money with no oversight or transparency he said.

Senator Dick Black introduced an amendment that striped all possibility of Medicaid expansion from the budget. Though it failed with several Republicans voting against it – it was replaced by another amendment introduced by Sen. Bill Stanley (R-5).

Republican Senator Emmett Hanger joined the 20 Republican’s caucus and voted for Stanley’s amendment to require any appropriation of money for expanded Medicaid be approved by the General Assembly. The bill effectively shuts the door on the Market based expansion introduced by Sen. Hanger for the next two years. This is a reversal of last year’s compromise based on the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC). MIRC completed their charge to reform Medicaid. The funds to expand Medicaid were available for expansion.

This ties Governor Terry McAuliffe’s hands for expanding Medicaid by executive order. The money is not there. It is not there unless the GA comes back and says it is there and they are not about to do that.

Democrat Delegate Joe Morrissey called on the Governor to have the “Chutzpah” to veto the budget when it reaches his desk. All Democrats were angry at the betrayal by Republicans who promised no amendments if the budget was decoupled from Medicaid expansion.

Senator Donald McEachin called it “immoral” while revealing his colon cancer and having “Cadillac Cover” through the Senate’s insurance to fight it. He said he couldn’t imagine how an uninsured Virginian would be able to get the excellent care he has received.

Sen. John Watkins a Republican who supported expansion through the Marketplace  option kept apologizing for his reversal saying he was not proud of his decision. He said that too many more Virginians would be hurt without a budget.

The gallery in the Senate was filled late in the evening with 50 expansion supporter who were holding a candlelight vigil outside. They were recognized and applauded mildly by the Senators. Republicans clapped with one hand it seemed.

On twitter Republicans gloated:

If the HOD strips #blackorbust 2.0 from the budget, they will have abdicated any claim of being the conservative chamber. #nothappening

Senate John Edwards just said the @BillStanley amendment will “make it impossible to go forward with Medicaid.” Exactly.

Statement from Virginia Democrats:

Richmond, VA – “Republicans just passed a budget that moves the Commonwealth backwards by denying 400,000 Virginians access to affordable health care, denying teachers and state employees a raise, raids higher education,  reduces funding for core government services, and undermines every inch of progress made by the bipartisan General Assembly last year on closing the coverage gap. This vote was made possible by Senator Phil Puckett’s decision to abandon his constituents and hand control of the State Senate to Republicans,” said Democratic Leader David J. Toscano.  “The Republican Party has once again shown that it cares more about the extreme right Tea Party wing of their caucus than the well being of the 8.1 million Virginians they were elected to serve.” 

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Finance, Politics, State Politics

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