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Loudoun’s York enters the state budget fray

Loudoun County Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) is urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to get in the trenches of the state budget fight playing out in Richmond and across the commonwealth.

In a letter dated March 8, the day the General Assembly adjourned without passage of a budget, York asked that McAuliffe not let a single issue -- namely, Medicaid expansion -- prevent the governor from working with state lawmakers to approve a budget.

“Without timely action on the state budget by both the state legislative and executive branches, local government budget decision-making is nearly impossible to finalize, and the threat of a July 1 shutdown of nonessential state operations a real possibility,” York wrote.

The Loudoun chairman, writing on behalf of his Board of Supervisors, said he wanted to remind McAuliffe of “several rapidly approaching deadlines that affect Loudoun County, as with most localities,” including: “every local government must approve a budget and fix its tax rate by July 1”; “every locality is required by law to adopt its annual school budget by May 1, or at least 30 days after receiving an estimate of State aide, whichever is later”; and “all local school divisions must notify its teachers of any reductions in force due to a decrease in the school budget … no later than June 1.”

While Virginia's governor has veto power over a proposed state budget, it's officially left to the General Assembly to finalize a spending plan.

McAuliffe has called a special General Assembly session for the two chambers to return to Richmond to hash out budget differences, primarily the ongoing fight over Medicaid. The special session, which begins March 24, is estimated to last three weeks.

One element of the federal Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion has been a key platform issue for the new governor since his campaign. During a stop at Loudoun's Inova hospital in late February, McAuliffe said expansion “is the right thing to do socially, morally and economically.”

Today, McAuliffe spokeswoman Rachel Thomas said the governor is hopeful “House Republicans can put politics aside and sit down with him to work out a compromise.”

“Currently, Medicaid is 20 percent of the state budget, and both the House and Senate included in their respective budgets saving from Medicaid reforms, so efforts to separate the two are merely stalling tactics,” Thomas said. “The governor urges House Republicans to come to the table to pass a budget that closes the coverage gap as soon as possible so we can avoid uncertainty, enable 400,000 Virginians to access quality healthcare, and save $1 billion to our state budget over the next eight years.”

When asked what steps Gov. McAuliffe has taken to find a resolution in the budget battle, Thomas said the governor has “been in continuous contact with members of the Senate.”

The McAuliffe spokeswoman added, “The governor has been traveling across the commonwealth, visiting hospitals, clinics, and meeting with healthcare providers and patients to hear how important closing the coverage gap is for our health care facilities' bottom lines and for the health of our citizens.”

Virginia Republicans have relentlessly attacked Democrats for “using the state budget as a bargaining chip” for Medicaid.

Speaker of the House of Delegates William Howell (R-28th) highlighted York's letter on the Republican House Caucus' website, calling attention to the fact York represents the fourth largest jurisdiction in the commonwealth.

“Loudoun County joins a growing chorus of local governments urging the governor to separate the issue of Medicaid expansion from the budget,” the website reads, noting that the City of Virginia Beach, Shenandoah County, New Kent County and the City of Colonial Heights have all adopted resolutions to separate the two items.

Democrats, meanwhile, have continued to press Republicans to “close the coverage gap” and expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 400,000 low- and middle-income Virginians.

Click here to read Scott York's letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Does York not see the irony in his request?

So the budget is held up because of only 400K people in virginia. The gov needs to pick a differnt battle. Let’s start with giving more of our money to Northern va for roads and schools. I just read a report where a large chunk of medicaid is made up of criminals(out of prision/jail).

I guess if the complainer here were still a supervisor then he would have his answers instead of a intestinal blockage. Paying for expansion by borrowing more money from China… is a page right out of the political correct progressive playbook. Instead of voting for this farce republicans need to hold out and make McAuliffe order the expansion. York asks a pertinent question but lo and behold Miller blows it out of proportion into another great conspiracy talk about a two step performance. Loudoun and Virginia have better now that he is no longer a supervisor.

This is the second letter written by Mr. York recently on behalf of more than himself and one other member of the board, yet I find nothing in the online record showing this was discussed in an open meeting. When are these supervisors discussing these things? What’s the exception that allows such discussions to avoid the Freedom of Information Act’s public-meeting laws?

Regardless of whether this was a FOIA violation or not, Mr. York is playing bald-faced politics, writing a letter to the governor when the budget is not the governor’s to pass. He can’t sign a budget the General Assembly hasn’t sent him. York is doing this to mislead the public into thinking our Democratic governor is the problem, when, in fact, with a majority of Virginia’s Republicans now in favor of Medicaid expansion, it is Republican legislators afraid of primary elections who are blocking the path to getting back our own tax dollars.

If Scott York wants the budget passed, he would do better to rally Republican voters around their delegates and senators, and get them to reassure those elected officials that they won’t let them down in their party’s next nominating contest. Instead, when they could both be leaders, the chairman and Speaker Howell are resorting to finger-pointing and misdirection.

Loudoun and Virginia both deserve better.

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