Medicaid Could Derail Transportation Plan

By: Deon Guillory Email
By: Deon Guillory Email

There's a stalemate at the State Capitol. With just hours left before the end of this session of the General Assembly, Governor Bob McDonnell may end up losing one of his biggest initiatives.

Late Friday, the House of Delegates gave the green light to Governor McDonnell's transportation plan, but the Senate quickly adjourned.

"I'm unfortunately am not sold that this is the way to do it," said State Senator Mark Obenshain.

The bill would raise billions by replacing Virginia's retail gas tax with a wholesale tax. It would also increase the sales tax, increase the titling tax on cars and add a yearly $100 dollar registration fee to anyone owning a hybrid.

"We're gonna have a gas tax that will go down, but it's going to be replaced by a significantly higher sales tax," said Obenshain.

Friday night, Senators on both sides are looking to pump the brakes on the plan. Republicans don't want a tax increase. Democrats want Medicaid expansion.

Political analyst Dr. Bob Roberts asks, "What's more important to the Democrats, the transportation funds or the medicaid?"

Medicaid came into the picture after the Governor sent a letter stating he can't support the expansion.

"Everybody thought the Medicaid deal was struck until tomorrow. Everybody completely shocked that he sent that letter," said Roberts.

The Senate's 20 Democrats are demanding a written letter from Governor McDonnell to guarantee the expansion. In exchange, they will support passing his transportation bill.

McDonnell's office released a copy of his letter two hours after the Senate adjourned.

The governor applauds the compromise, but didn't promise to make any changes.

The Senate gets back to work at 10 a.m. Saturday.


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