State budget in placePublished 9:46pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014
With leaders of both parties calling each other obstructionist, the General Assembly has a budget for the commonwealth less than a week shy of its due date.
The Assembly upheld six of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s eight vetoes on Monday, but they rejected vetoes on a restriction against expanding Medicaid administratively and on funding for judges.
“I am pleased that the General Assembly upheld six of the eight vetoes that I applied to the budget without controversy,” McAuliffe stated in a press release. But he continued: “I am continually surprised and disappointed by the lengths to which Republicans in the House of Delegates will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to health care.”
The budget process had stalled during the regular session — and then through several special sessions — over Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats hoped to expand coverage to more than 400,000 Virginians, they said, but Republicans in the House of Delegates said the issue should be considered on its own merits, outside the budget process.
McAuliffe said House Republicans used a “procedural gimmick” to obstruct the normal legislative process. Speaker William Howell declared the two vetoes out of order, thus avoiding a vote on them.
“As my team and I evaluate the House’s failure to override my veto, I remain focused on expanding access to health care for Virginia residents, and I intend to move forward on that goal as I have promised,” McAuliffe said. “Virginians elect their leaders to act in their best interests, not to bog good public policy down in parliamentary gimmicks.”
Unsurprisingly, Republicans said their actions were proper.
“Speaker Howell’s rulings regarding the governor’s actions are fully supported by the Constitution of Virginia and by unambiguous and on-point rulings by the Supreme Court of Virginia,” Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment Jr., whose district represents part of North Suffolk, said in a press release.
“Although it is not novel for the executive branch to attempt to expand its authority, it is disappointing that this governor opted to do so in a manner clearly contradicting established precedent and previous case law.”
“It is my hope that Governor McAuliffe will abandon his efforts to unilaterally impose Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion scheme on the people of Virginia,” Norment added.