Special Budget Session Kicks Off

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) -- State lawmakers are back in Richmond for a special session and the governor's plan to tie Medicaid expansion into the budget is already running into roadblocks.

"Unless we have concessions on his demands to expand Medicaid, I think it's a non-starter," said Delegate Dickie Bell, a Republican who represents Virginia's 20th District.

"It shouldn't have been tied in with the budget, in my humble opinion. And so it definitely needs to be separated out and let's pass a budget that all Virginians are counting on," said Tony Wilt, a Republican who represents Virginia's 26th District.

Lawmakers are picking up where they left off in negotiating a budget deal, but now they have 104 amendments proposed by Governor McAuliffe, including a two-year pilot program to expand Medicaid.

Delegate Ben Cline, a Republican who represents Virginia's 24th District, called the proposal political and said it's not the way to do work in Virginia.

"Now, Governor McAuliffe is new, so it's understandable that he may want to try things a Washington-style political maneuver, but those kinds of maneuvers don't work in Richmond, and they certainly don't work with the people of Virginia," said Cline.

As for what we'll see come out of the special session.

"I think there'll be a lot of political posturing. To be honest with you, as far as how much work we actually get done, I don't know. I'm not optimistic that we're going to accomplish everything we've been called back to do," said Bell.

Cline also said the House and Senate are close enough on negotiations that they're not going to bring in an entirely new budget from the governor.

"That was a political move on his part and we'll look at it, but all in all we are at a good place with our budgets now, and all we have to do is convince this governor that Obamacare expansion is not the way to go," said Cline.

In his briefing Monday morning, Governor McAuliffe called on lawmakers to put aside partisan politics and pass his plan and the budget, saying there's no reason it shouldn't happen during the special session.

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