The Virginia Senate has passed its version of the state budget for the next two fiscal years, which begin on July 1st.
Senators introduced the spending bill proposed by Governor McAuliffe, then added their own touches— including Marketplace Virginia, the private-insurance alternative to Medicaid expansion. But by the end of the day the Senate and the House were no closer to resolving their budget stalemate.
One reason it's prudent for lawmakers to review the fine print of amendments offered to the Virginia state budget is because it may contain legislation that might not pass both houses on its own. Such is the case with an amendment approved by the House and attached to its version of the state budget. It directs the executive branch on how to proceed in controversial cases, such as the lawsuit challenging Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.
It was budget day at the State Capitol. The House and Senate mull over and pass their respective budget proposals, which are then sent to the opposite chambers. That's typically when the lines in the sand are drawn. Although each version makes significant changes in former Governor McDonnell's 96-billion dollar draft, the lines were drawn well before today over one issue—Medicaid expansion.
Reports that House Republican leaders are dropping efforts to tie legislation to the debt ceiling increase is being met with cheers from lawmakers in the region.
Many rank and file lawmakers wanted the G-O-P to extract a policy priority in exchange for the increase. Some wanted tweaks to so-called Obamacare while others wanted to expand energy development. Party leaders are reportedly pulling the plug on those efforts. Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Rigell says that’s good news.
“This is really the last major legislative hurdle that we face as a country this year.”