BUDGET, PLEASE? A few local leaders are calling on the governor to handle Medicaid separately and pass a budget.
By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ever since the General Assembly adjourned without a budget because of the Medicaid expansion scuffle, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has launched into full-time campaign mode at hospitals and clinics around the state, pushing the argument for bridging the health care coverage gap.
Cities and counties, however, base some of their budget process off promised funding from the state. With the General Assembly at a budget impasse, some localities — including Loudoun County, Virginia Beach, Colonial Heights, New Kent County, and Shenandoah County — are pleading with the governor to handle the Medicaid matter separately and pass a budget.
Even Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, who endorsed McAuliffe for governor and signed one of those letters to the governor backing expansion, is asking for a budget in time for Virginia’s largest city to make its March 25 budget presentation.
“We have a city to run that needs a budget,” Sessoms, who drafted a resolution along those lines for the city council to sign, told the Virginian-Pilot earlier this week. “And we can’t adopt a budget without knowing how much is coming from the state.”
Another signal to the governor comes from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Scott York:
“We respectfully request that you not allow any single issue, including consideration of Medicaid expansion, to prevent you from working with the General Assembly to enact a state budget,” York said in a letter to the governor dated Saturday. “Specifically, if the Medicaid issue cannot be resolved at the conclusion of this session as scheduled, then the issue should be dropped and the entire state budget should move forward and be adopted. Therefore, we request that you separate this particular issue from the entire state budget and deal with it separately at another time.”
Under Virginia code, local governments are required to set a budget and fix tax rates by July 1; school districts are required to notify teachers who won’t have a job in fall by June 1; and every locality is supposed to adopt an annual schools budget by May 1.
Still, it’s far from the first time the General Assembly hasn’t finalized a biennial budget by the end of regular session. In 2012, lawmakers went well into spring before passing one.
Virginia lawmakers are scheduled to return to Richmond on March 24 for a special session to duke out Medicaid and the budget.
— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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