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Va. budget picture gets even hazier

Little comfort can be offered to Virginians worried their state government, in the absence of a budget for the coming fiscal year, will shut down July 1. And the news only got worse Monday.

An Old Dominion shutdown would be the culmination of a months-long partisan rumble over the issue of Medicaid expansion and, more broadly the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Democrats say they remain committed to expanding Medicaid to as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians though the Affordable Care Act, while leading Republicans have stood united in their opposition to all things Obamacare.

Yet while the tussle over Medicaid has splashed headlines for most of 2014, a new slice of somber news surfaced Monday: Members of the House Appropriations Committee learned the latest revenue collections from the state forecast an approximately $300 million budget shortfall.

Loudoun state Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd), who was in Richmond for the briefing, said the new revenue numbers compound the budget standoff.

Essentially, Greason said, the $300 million shortfall means the gap between the House and Senate budgets widens. Therefore, even if the Medicaid issue is settled, it's likely to take longer for the two chambers to agree on the final spending bill, Greason said.

“Before we were talking about nickels and dimes,” he said of the House and Senate spending proposals, not considering the Medicaid question. “Now we're talking about $100 bills.”

A spokesman for Gov. McAuliffe, Brian Coy, said the new revenue data “just underscores the urgency” for the “two parties to put politics aside and reach a deal.”

Coy said the governor is not interested in separating the Medicaid debate from the budget because Medicaid “is a core part of the budget – about 20 percent.”

Del. Greason has urged the governor to call for the 12 conferees from the House and Senate to sit down in the same room – something that hasn't happened in recent weeks, Greason said.

The governor's spokesman said there's nothing stopping the conferees from doing so. Coy added that it's up to the General Assembly, not the governor, to pass a budget.

In addition to the revenue concern, the state legislators received a briefing on whether McAuliffe has the authority to keep the government open if no budget bill is passed. The answer to that question, state attorneys explained, is that the government could remain open, but employees would basically be working on an “IOU” basis until a budget is finalized.

The attorneys said the governor has no authority to spend money without a budget adopted by the General Assembly.

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Except the ACA is paying for itself through new small fees on high end health care consumers. This does not expand the deficit.

There is no money for the expansion only a expanded federal deficit. Balance the budget then talk about increasing spending.

Gov. McAuliffe is completely in the wrong by trying to join a political promise his elected office is incapable of delivering and the normal political process of approving a budget for the Commonwealth.
It is completely understandable that the governor would make these ill-conceived promises since he has never held any elected position in his life.
So fedup, justify how the republicans are in the wrong if the government shuts down because of the governor’s incompetence due to his lacking any experience as a leader.

Republicans are in the wrong here.

Or the democrats can do the right thing and come to the table and attempt to speak rationally and intelligently. I know it is a long shot that this will ever happen.

Promoting VA business is part of the Governor job

Hey Guv’na - Spend less time at wine festivals & more time doing your job.

I hope they shut down July 1. I’m sure more then 400K Virginians will be very mad with Gov Terry. I would like to know more info on the 400K. How about granting 20% each year for 5 years? Have a lottery drawing to see which 80K gets initial coverage….

Or the republicans can do the right thing and give in.

Unlink Medicaid from the Budget Governor. Money for potholes and DMV operations has nothing to do with accepting Medicaid money from the Federal Government.

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