The Virginia House of Delegates passed the state’s two-year budget Thursday, sending the budget to the desk of Governor Terry McAuliffe for final approval. The budget addresses the $1.5 billion revenue shortfall by cutting spending increases and using some of the state’s rainy day fund. The budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement:
“I am very pleased that the General Assembly was able to put politics aside and pass a budget to avert a government shutdown. This is a responsible, conservative budget that closes the $1.5 billion revenue shortfall while protecting investments in some core areas like K-12 education, mental health and the state employee retirement system.
“I want to thank Majority Leader Kirk Cox, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones, Vice Chairman Steve Landes, and Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairs Walter Stosch and Chuck Colgan, as well as the Appropriations and Finance committee staffs for expediting work on the state budget once an agreement was reached. They have demonstrated incredible professionalism and should be commended for their quick work.
“At no point did the budget include language that would have allowed the Governor to expand Medicaid without the approval of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. However, because reports have suggested that Governor McAuliffe may try to do so, the General Assembly added an additional, clarifying section that unequivocally prohibits the expansion of Medicaid without the approval of the legislature.
“As I have said consistently throughout this process, the House of Delegates is committed to a full and fair discussion on the merits of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. I am deeply concerned about Medicaid expansion and what it would mean to Virginia. Our current Medicaid program is unsustainable and needs reform; Virginia cannot afford the long-term costs and cannot rely on the false promise of free federal money; and we must think very carefully about creating a new welfare entitlement for able-bodied, working adults. This is a complicated issue that is worthy of debate and I look forward to just that.”