McAuliffe Vetoes Part of State Budget Proposal

By: Alan Suderman, Associated Press
By: Alan Suderman, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed part of a roughly $96 billion two-year budget that is aimed ensuring the Democratic governor cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval.

McAuliffe announced his plans during a news conference Friday at the Capitol.

Lawmakers passed a two-year budget last week that did not include expanding Medicaid eligibility. McAuliffe and most Democratic lawmakers support expanding Medicaid, while most Republicans oppose it.

The battle over Medicaid expansion led to a months-long impasse over the budget that threatened a potential state government shutdown. The impasse was broken when a Democratic state senator abruptly resigned, giving Republicans control of both chambers in the General Assembly.

McAuliffe also said he will continue to look for ways to expand Medicaid.

The General Assembly can vote to override the governor's veto.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) issued the following statement Friday:

“As soon as we receive them, the House will review all of Governor McAuliffe’s vetoes on the budget bill passed by the General Assembly last week. The Constitution and Supreme Court proscribe specific limits on the Governor’s line-item veto authority. We will review these vetoes to determine if they fall within the narrow scope of that authority, and once that review is complete the House will act accordingly.

“The Governor has no authority to expand Medicaid unilaterally or without the specific approval of the General Assembly. The Governor’s attempt to usurp the constitutionally proscribed powers of the legislative branch is a dangerous threat to the rule of law, separation of powers, and foundation of representative democracy that we simply cannot allow. We are prepared to challenge this blatant executive overreach through all available avenues, including the court system.

“Some of the other vetoes appear to be petty and politically motivated. The continuity and operation of our judicial system is of paramount importance, and should not be subject to political gamesmanship. Governor McAuliffe signed the bipartisan ethics bill; his decision to veto this funding is counterproductive and unnecessary. The House of Delegates will act accordingly when it convenes on Monday.”

Following the Governor’s announcement of his vetoes to the biennial budget, passed last week by the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Northam released the following statement:

“I am fully supportive of the Governor’s actions on the budget, which clearly communicate the priorities of this administration. The most pressing issue is providing affordable, quality healthcare for the more than 400,000 hardworking Virginians who are currently without coverage. I am confident that we will do everything we can to close this coverage gap, which is a moral and financial imperative.

Additionally, the Governor is absolutely right that if Virginia cannot even afford initiatives to reduce homelessness, it is unconscionable that we spend money on renovated offices for members of the General Assembly. Finally, Virginians deserve stronger ethics reform than what emerged from the General Assembly and I look forward to working to improve those policies next year.”

Attorney General Mark R. Herring released the following statement after Governor McAuliffe announced that he will explore options to expand healthcare for Virginians:

"After being elected on the promise to expand healthcare to more Virginians, Governor McAuliffe has done the right thing by fighting hard for months to do just that, even in the face of unreasonable opposition in the legislature. The Governor proposed and endorsed several bipartisan compromises that would have closed the coverage gap, giving hundreds of thousands of Virginians access to healthcare, bringing billions of dollars back to Virginia, creating jobs, and producing public safety benefits with expanded access to mental health and addiction treatment. For only political reasons and no substantive policy reasons, a majority of the legislature has rejected every reasonable compromise.

"The Governor today announced he is moving ahead to help people and that's the right thing to do. In the coming weeks, we will see his specific proposals to return federal funds to the Commonwealth to provide critical health care for our people, and we will work closely together to ensure he's able to do that."

RPV Chairman Pat Mullins issued the following statement:

"What we saw today from Governor McAuliffe was no less than a temper tantrum, a display unworthy of the office once held by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson."

"Everyone expected him to veto the Medicaid-related language in the budget, even if it's on shaky legal ground. But refusing to fund more judges at a time when our courts are over capacity is wrong. It's bad policy born of a fit of impotent rage."

"In regard to the Governor's efforts to expand Medicaid unilaterally, his disregard for the rule of law is striking, and disappointing."

"However, speaking as the Chairman of a party that aim to elect Republicans, I welcome Democratic Governor McAuliffe's efforts to expand an unpopular Democratic program in a swing state in an election year. And I'm certain Democrat Mark Warner is looking forward to standing up for Obamacare expansion, too."

"See you in September, Terry."

Virginia Organizing State Governing Board Chairperson Sandra A. Cook responded to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to move forward administratively on Medicaid expansion:

“We are very excited with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to line-item veto the obstacles in the budget that legislators put in his way regarding Medicaid expansion. His action will help close the coverage gap so that more people can get health insurance in Virginia. And we are absolutely thrilled that the Governor is going to move forward administratively to expand Medicaid!

“We will continue to work with the Governor, his staff and others, to find a solution that works for all Virginians, especially the 400,000 Virginians who will be directly affected by Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion is not a partisan issue, but it has been overly politicized. Virginia Organizing calls on everyone to take the politics out of Medicaid expansion and focus on the people that will get health insurance, the jobs that will be created, the hospitals that will be helped, and all Virginians who will benefit from our tax dollars returning to the Commonwealth.”

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