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    General Assembly returns for special session

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia state lawmakers returned to Richmond Monday for a special session in which they will try to pass a roughly $96 billion two-year budget.

    But prospects for a quick resolution look dim, as Republican leaders in the House of Delegates and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe continue to spar over whether Virginia should accept additional federal Medicaid funding.

    McAuliffe and the Democratically controlled Senate want a state budget that includes a Medicaid expansion plan that emphasizes the use of private insurers, a plan leaders in the GOP-controlled House staunchly oppose.

    The impasse led to lawmakers adjourning from their regular legislative session earlier this month without passing a state budget. State government could shut down if no budget is passed before July 1.

    There's been no sign that the two sides have come close to an agreement since the regular session ended.

    Expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income adults was a key part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court made expansions an option, and about half the states so far have opted to expand.

    McAuliffe has made expanding Medicaid eligibility to as many as 400,000 Virginians his top legislative priority. The federal government has pledged to cover most of the costs of expansion and McAuliffe has argued the state's cash-strapped rural hospitals can't afford to forgo that money.

    The governor has spent the two weeks since the end of the regular session making appearances at health centers around the state to promote the benefits of Medicaid expansion. At a health clinic in Alexandria on Thursday, McAuliffe pledged that Medicaid expansion would occur this year, according to a video of his comments posted on the website, Blue Virginia.

    "We will get this done this year. You have my word on it," McAuliffe said. "I do not make promises lightly. If I put my word to it, you're going to get it."

    But House Republicans have said they are equally dedicated to preventing Medicaid expansion. They have argued Virginia cannot afford a large-scale increase of Medicaid enrollees and should be wary about the federal government's promises to pay most of the costs associated with expansion.

    Republicans have also tried to pressure McAuliffe into "decoupling" the debate over Medicaid expansion and the state's budget. But McAuliffe has rejected the Republican's suggestion that the General Assembly pass a budget without Medicaid expansion and then hold a special session devoted entirely to the subject.

    House leaders have spent the break between the regular session and the special session highlighting how uncertainty with the state budget affects those who depend on the money.

    "The thing we're interested in right now is decoupling, because the local governments are waiting on our budget," House Speaker William J. Howell told reporters after meeting with McAuliffe on Wednesday.


    Comments

    Tax freedom day has been pushed bback over a week depending on the outcome with our school budget and the expansion. No! In no uncertain terms do I think that politicians should be spending more money for anything, they should be cutting the states unfunded debts. I am not my brothers keeper and will not tolerate anyone telling me I should be. Muddy the waters with religion but it is still about politicians pandering for votes using my money to pay for unearned benefits. Enough is enough


    Since the General Assembly won’t be around in July, McAuliffe will take all the blame when he has to shut down the Government in July.


    oranges869,
    Just like Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Terry Mac got torched?

    If you hate your tax dollars going to peoples health care, do you care about your tax dollars going to everyone else for everything else.

    You must not be a christian man either.


    There is no reason for my taxpayers dollars to go into some ones health care fund. It’s not my job to provide for you or anyone. If the government wants to do that do it without my money please.
    I feel no obligation to pay for health benefits for others. It’s a politicians trick to garner more votes. You want more money for the military, the schools, mental health, the farm bill but there has to be a price on everything. The state wants to give a 2% increase to teachers who at the minimum are making 36 dollars a hour for 38 weeks worth of effort. Solution is status quo, don’t make me a beast of burden for unearned benefits. The people without the benefits need to step up their game not me. Any politician that votes for this will be torched here.


    At least more cowbell is able to make a suggestion that not only makes sense, but allows those who claim that they are willing to pay more in taxes, to do just that.  But lets expand the idea even further.  For all those who say they are willing to pay more LOCALLY for schools, for example, that they add, oh, I don’t know, maybe $1,500.00 extra to their property tax bill payments.  After all, lead by example.  I do, also, take exception with my very good friend oranges869.  Yelling loudly is not offering a suggestion   It is just yelling loudly


    Perhaps they can add a checkbox to the VA tax form asking people the option to pay Medicaid coverage. Then those that think this is a great idea can pay. Most that are for funding Medicaid want to pay with other hard working middle class money and not their own.


    1.8 billion dollars just for Virginia, multiply that times 50 states. Where does the money come from you ask. It come from the increase in the federal debt. But many say as long as we get enough for Virginia we don’t really care where the money comes from. It just so happens that in 5 years we will be paying more in interest alone on the federal debt then we pay for national defense. This is not a entitlement because that is something you ear it’s a give away not even disguised as a hand up just a hand out. $4500.00 dollars a year per 400k people equal 1.8 billion and they do nothing for it,,, baloney!!!


    Great, maybe Tag can spend more time talking about his beard and not fixing Virginias problems.

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