Today is day 34 of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Obamacare budget impasse.
Local governments across Virginia are facing tremendous uncertainty, caused by Governor McAuliffe’s decision to hold the budget hostage to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
The City of Charlottesville is one of many localities trying to finalize their budget without knowing how the final state budget will look. Now, Charlottesville leaders say it is time to start preparing for the worst:
From NBC29 in Charlottesville:
Around the state, schools and localities are waiting to see when – and if – state leaders can strike a deal on Virginia’s two-year, $97 billion budget. Without a spending plan, state government could shut down July 1. In the city of Charlottesville, that could leave social services and city schools taking the biggest hit.“Like all localities in Virginia, we’re waiting to see what the state decides on for their budget,” said Miriam Dickler, spokeswoman for the city.
Dickler says budget planners haven’t formally discussed a “plan B,” should the state fail to pass a budget. But the city could dig into its $27 million reserves, equal to about 17 percent of the budget, to keep funds flowing.
“If that does happen, we are prepared to keep funding things that get state funding and hopefully get reimbursed once that budget goes through,” Dickler said.
City Council is slated to pass its budget Friday afternoon, without a guarantee from Richmond. If uncertainty continues, some tough decisions could be on the way, and City Councilor Dede Smith says it’s time to begin preparing for the worst.
“Planning is important and we do need to at least be starting to have the conversation,” Smith said.
This uncertainty is wholly unnecessary.
When the General Assembly adjourned over one month ago, budget negotiators were very close to finalizing a budget. In fact, the House and Senate budget bottom lines were separated by an amount equal to one-tenth of one percent of the entire budget.
Unfortunately, Governor McAuliffe and his allies insist on delaying the entire budget over a separate and distinct policy debate. They are using the budget, and the 8 million Virginians who rely on its timely passage, as bargaining chips in their effort to bring Obamacare to Virginia.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch called this a “morally dubious” action that will “inflict collateral damage on innocent third parties.”
Local governments don’t deserve to be caught in the crossfire of Governor McAuliffe’s political battles. Their decisions are hard enough without added uncertainty. The clear path forward is for the Governor to drop his demands for Obamacare and let Virginia pass a clean budget.