Today is day 81 of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Obamacare budget impasse. Virginia localities continue to grapple with the challenges caused by Governor McAuliffe’s decision to hold the state budget hostage over Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Budget cuts leading to reductions in city services eventually may occur if the General Assembly does not approve a state budget soon, according to Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
In a unanimous vote, Martinsville City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to an approximately $89.3 million budget for fiscal 2015, which will start July 1. The budget does not contain any reductions in services.
With state lawmakers at odds over budget issues and no effort in sight to resolve them, though, Towarnicki is concerned because about 27 percent of city revenues — excluding schools — for the new fiscal year is state funding.
Essentially level state funding was plugged into the spending plan because officials do not yet know how much Martinsville will get, Towarnicki said.
“We had to make assumptions” in budgeting on amounts of state funding that the city will receive, Towarnicki told the council. If budget cuts eventually must be made, he said, “they will be handled based on their magnitude.”
That could mean cuts in services, he said during a phone interview earlier in the day.
Based on information he obtained from the Virginia Municipal League, Vice Mayor Gene Teague said he understands that state funding to localities “will continue to decline” and the league advises planning for reductions.
So “we may not be done with the budget” for the coming fiscal year yet, Teague said.
At the urging of Teague and Councilman Mark Stroud, the city plans to send the area’s lawmakers and Gov. Terry McAuliffe a letter encouraging them to adopt a budget before the new fiscal year starts and, if necessary, to use rainy day fund money to help localities deal with budget cuts.
Councilman Danny Turner suggested sending a letter only to McAuliffe.
Ultimately, Turner said, “it’s the governor who’s at fault” for the budget impasse due to matters pertaining to Medicaid funding.
That uncertainty and concern is only exacerbated by the potential revenue shortfall that Virginia faces to close the fiscal year.
The clear resolution to the impasse is to set aside Medicaid expansion, and pass a clean budget that keeps state government open and funds Virginia’s local governments, schools and first responders.
Over 100 local governments, school boards, business groups and local elected leaders have passed resolutions or written letters to the Governor supporting this position. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has urged lawmakers and the Governor to “set aside” any issue that may create an impasse.
It’s time for Governor McAuliffe and the Senate to end the unnecessary uncertainty, drop their demands for Obamacare and let Virginia pass a budget.