Va. barrels into special session after budget impasse
Va. barrels into special session after budget impasse
11 March, 2018, 01:38
The normal General Assembly session is set to end on Saturday.
The gap in funding - and the raises and other priorities funded in the House plan but not the Senate version - is due to House Republican support for Medicaid expansion after years of opposition.
Medicaid is a federal program that gives low-income people - along with children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities - health insurance.
This is, of course, the natural course resulting from the continued purpling - and ever-bluer tinges - of Virginia that manifested in the last election cycle.
"I think it is imperative that we move forward to make progress on finding a resolution to this budget impasse which, in round numbers, is about $843 million apart", Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said.
Virginia is one of 18 states that have refused.
Instead, the legislature is likely to seek a special session to settle a budget battle that pivots on whether to accept billions of dollars in federal money to expand Medicaid coverage for more than 300,000 uninsured Virginians.
But many Republicans still oppose expansion and the disagreement is threatening a possible state government shutdown as the House and Senate battle over the issue. He had planned to amend it with a substitute bill to carry out Medicaid expansion, as proposed in the House budget, as a way to allow Senate Republicans to vote on the issue outside of the budget.
The budget chairman had sent the legislation to the House floor without a Senate amendment to link enactment to funding in the budget. "That is a risk I am not willing to take".
This year's General Assembly session is scheduled to wrap up in a few days, but there is still some unfinished business lawmakers are sorting through before they leave Richmond.
"We've already dealt with all that we can", Jones said. Locally, of course, our GOP senators are not taking this lightly and oppose the House's original plan.
If there is not a consensus by Saturday, lawmakers will have to continue working toward a compromise - past their March 10 deadline.
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