|Gov. Terry McAuliffe spoke at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday, where he talked about the economy, the state budget and today’s major jobs announcement. Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko|
Gov. Terry McAuliffe dropped into Loudoun Wednesday – literally, he arrived via helicopter – to speak on jobs, transportation, economic development and LGBT rights, but there was no way the rookie governor was getting out of Northern Virginia without touching on the recently-approved state budget that awaits his signature.
Upon arriving at the National Conference Center just outside Leesburg, the Democratic McAuliffe was peppered with questions from the press on what budgetary action he'll take, be it signing the spending plan, vetoing it or leaving it blank, which would eventually enact the proposal.
McAuliffe's answer remained the same as it has been since he received the Medicaid-less budget three days ago: He's weighing his options, he said, and he'll do what's best for the people of Virginia.
A former Democratic National Committee Chairman who is holding his first public office, McAuliffe said he will "have news on the budget in the next couple days."
“Don't worry. Everything will work out,” he said.
Following a three-month budget standoff, Republicans in the General Assembly pushed through and passed a spending plan last week that doesn't include expanding Medicaid to as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians, something McAuliffe promised he would do during his gubernatorial campaign. McAuliffe vowed he would not sign a budget that doesn't include expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a promise that has largely led to the current predicament.
“This is not a partisan issue,” the governor said at Wednesday's Loudoun Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event. “It's about bringing $26 billion back to the Commonwealth of Virginia” and providing health care to 400,000 Virginians.
The governor has until Sunday to act on the budget.
During his 25 minutes worth of remarks, McAuliffe highlighted his creation of the first-ever state cybersecurity commission, his bipartisan cooperation to reduce Standards of Learning testing, several major jobs announcements and his inaugural executive order, which protected the gay and lesbian community against workforce discrimination.
McAuliffe's visit -- at least his fourth to Loudoun in the past month -- came on a busy day. In Richmond Wednesday morning, the governor announced that Shandong Tranlin Paper Co., a Chinese pulp and paper company, will invest $2 billion in the state over five years, establishing its first U.S. advanced manufacturing operation in Chesterfield County. The investment is expected to create 2,000 new jobs in Virginia by 2020, according to the governor's office.
From the National Conference Center, McAuliffe trekked to Washington to meet privately with White House officials. Virginia is the top recipient of Department of Defense dollars in the nation, and therefore it's essential the governor's administration maintains communications about federal budget activity, the governor said.
About the White House visit, McAuliffe jested, "I'm trying to convince them there's only one state in America that really matters, and that's Virginia. Forget the other 49."