Legislators react to vetoes

Published 10:46 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

Reaction split predictably along party lines among Suffolk’s legislators following Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s announcement of several line-item vetoes and budget changes.

Some of McAuliffe’s vetoes are related to the General Assembly’s efforts to prevent Medicaid expansion, which McAuliffe’s office said would extend health care to 400,000 citizens.

“I am moving forward to get Virginians health care,” McAuliffe said. “My administration will continue to press for and achieve greater efficiency in Medicaid and other health care delivery programs.”

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Sen. John Miller, a Democrat whose First District includes a small part of North Suffolk, called McAuliffe’s actions “bold and appropriate.”

“My constituents support expansion, and since the General Assembly has been unwilling to move forward, I am pleased the governor is doing the right thing,” Miller wrote in an email.

Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., whose Third District also represents a small part of North Suffolk, called the governor’s actions “disappointing.”

“It is disappointing that Governor McAuliffe has publicly announced his intention to ignore the Constitution of Virginia by attempting to unilaterally expand Medicaid,” Norment wrote in an emailed statement. “The constitution of Virginia is very specific concerning the respective powers of the executive and legislative branches.”

Delegate Rick Morris, a Republican from the 64th District, which includes much of southwestern Suffolk, called McAuliffe’s actions “outrageous.”

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Morris said. “He’s bringing D.C. politics here to Virginia. His trying to instill an imperial governorship doesn’t surprise me. To disregard the people’s representatives is to disregard the basis of law itself.”

The General Assembly will return to special session on Monday, Morris said.

“By refusing any and all compromise, the House leadership has turned its back on people all over Virginia who were looking to us to help them and their families gain access to life-saving treatments and medicine,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe said he “may well have vetoed the entire budget” were it not for the fact there are only 10 days left in the fiscal year.

“But given the severe difficulties the General Assembly had in getting even this weak budget to me, I seriously doubt that they could have prepared a budget in the next week without disrupting or imperiling critical services or jeopardizing our AAA bond rating,” he said.

His vetoes included a budget amendment that would have prevented him from expanding Medicaid administratively. He also directed state staff to suspend activities relating to the construction of a new General Assembly building and other Richmond facilities.

“In my view, it simply sends the wrong signal to our people to be constructing expensive new facilities in Richmond at a time when we can’t find $10 million to decrease homelessness,” he said.

McAuliffe also said it is likely that additional vetoes or amendments will be forthcoming.