What they’re saying about the state budget stalemate

HouseGOP2014 General Assembly Session, Budget, Issues

Daily Progress: Will Gov. McAuliffe spend how he wants?

Now Mr. McAuliffe says that if they fail this time, he will keep the government open by spending state money without a budget.

Key Republican legislators say he lacks the authority to do this. Lawyers for the General Assembly’s Division of Legislative Services concur that his spending powers would be severely limited in the absence of a budget.

Taking Mr. McAuliffe’s statements together, we seem to be left with this brand of logic:

If the General Assembly does not pass a budget that the governor likes, then he will not sign it and will proceed to spend the state’s money as he chooses.

If the General Assembly does not pass a state budget at all, then he will proceed to spend the state’s money as he chooses.

And if the General Assembly passes a budget that the governor approves, he also will proceed to spend the state’s money as he chooses — because the budget then will contain the priorities that he chooses.

Anyone else see a problem with this?

Daily News Record: Va. wary on Medicaid expansion, and with good reason

But the truth of the matter is that federal money is federal money. Thus, what has states — and statesmen like Mr. Pence — flummoxed as they try to square this circle are the hoops they must jump through to get waivers for these innovative approaches and then the strings attached to the Washington dollars (i.e., picking up all the administrative costs for expansion) once this swag comes their way. If states fear losing their fiscal viability, there’s reason aplenty for it.

Small wonder then that Virginia — or at least the House of Delegates, where budgets ostensibly originate — is wary about accepting what amounts to “fool’s gold.”

Winchester Star: Our View: “Wake Up Call”

As it is, as attorneys from the state Division of Legislative Services said during a briefing with lawmakers Monday, Virginia will be — take your pick — wandering in “uncharted territory” or “navigating new waters” come July 1 if no budget agreement is forthcoming.

What we do know, as these DLS lawyers emphasized, is that “absent an appropriations law (i.e., a budget), neither the executive, legislative nor judicial branch may appropriate or spend funds in the State Treasury.” What’s more, while Mr. McAuliffe could declare a “state of emergency” in such a situation, no money will be available, short of an actual appropriation, to address such an emergency.

If these constitutional restrictions, not to mention that aforementioned shortfall, do not amount to a proverbial wake-up call for all parties concerned, we scarcely know what will. Time, we say, to put Medicaid aside, let the reform commission studying the health-care program officially offer its recommendations — and pass a budget. Virginians — all Virginians — deserve nothing less.

Martinsville Bulletin: Separate Medicaid, budget

The most obvious way to avoid this stalemate, to let local governments and school districts finalize their budgets, and to move the state forward is to separate the Medicaid expansion issue from the state budget. That way, legislators could return to Richmond, resolve any remaining budget issues and vote on a spending measure before July 1.

It also would clear the way for legislators to debate the Medicaid issue. It would allow time for Virginians to make their feelings known to legislators, and a decision could be made without the looming budget deadline and threat of a shutdown.

Gov. McAuliffe and state legislators should stop this cat and mouse game and move to pass a budget that will keep the state’s schools, law enforcement agencies and services operating. Anything less smacks of beltway politics, not Virginia statesmanship.

News Virginian: Budget stalemate not worth the cost

That’s where we are today, which is the same point we were at one month, even three months ago. Both sides have dug in their trenches and refuse to budge. In that same vein, we still support the idea we’ve endorsed all the way through. Let’s split the Medicaid discussion out from the budget and hold a special session on it later this fall.

Now isn’t the time to play chicken. It’s time to sit down, hammer out a budget and then look at Medicaid expansion on its own. The alternative isn’t worth it.