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Government Shutdown Averted; Medicaid Expansion Out; GA Passes Austere Budget

The Senate Finance Committee has advanced a new state budget without Medicaid expansion, a major step towards ending a months-long stalemate. Averting a possible government shutdown with less than three weeks to spare, the General Assembly passed an austere, two-year budget late last night after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling over Medicaid expansion.

In the end, the spending plan does not include the Medicaid provision, and by a 20-19 vote, the Republican controlled Senate inserted language that would prohibit Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe from doing so on his own. Democrats say the language kills any chance of expanding elibibility in the program to as many as 400 thousand uninsured Virginians for the next two years. Henrico Democratic Senator Don McEachin called it “immoral.” Senator Major Leader, Republican Tommy Norment accused dissenting Democrats of “demagoguery” and said hammering out the budget was the most difficult night he had ever spent in the General Assembly.

It now goes to the Govenor for his signature on amendments. He says “the fight is far from over.”

Meanhile, a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall caused by lagging tax revenue caused cuts across state operations with higher education taking the biggest hit at 184 million.