June 20 Budget Update

Earlier today in Richmond, Governor Terry McAuliffe said that but for the pending July 1 start of the new fiscal year, he was inclined to veto the FY 2014-2016 budget bill approved by the General Assembly on June 12 and communicated to him on June 15.  However, the Governor indicated that too many groups and people, as well as the Commonwealth’s stellar bond rating, may be negatively impacted without the adoption of a new budget.  His primary objection to the budget centers on specific prohibitions preventing him from pursuing the expansion of Medicaid coverage for up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians.

Despite Governor McAuliffe’s willingness to avoid a government shutdown, he is proposing several line item budget vetoes related to Medicaid expansion:

-The Medicaid Reform Commission: Established last year in the budget, the legislative Commission is designed to approve, or not, Virginia’s entrance into the federal expansion program. The Governor views the Commission as a roadblock and proposes abolishing it.
– The so-called (Senator) Stanley Amendment adopted on June 12:  The language amendment prevents the Governor from pursuing Medicaid expansion without legislative approval.  The Governor proposes eliminating the language from the budget.
– Today, Governor McAuliffe also said that he will pursue Medicaid expansion – presumably with or without the General Assembly’s approval – and directed his Secretary of Health and Human Resources to present him with a plan to do so before September.

In accordance with the Constitution of Virginia and upon receiving a bill while the legislature remains convened, as is the current case, a governor has seven days to act on legislation.  Governors can offer amendments and offer separate line item vetoes to budget bills.  The legislature will reconvene on Monday and possibly Tuesday to consider his actions.  Amendments are adopted by a simple majority vote and line item vetoes are overridden by a two-thirds vote – votes of each chamber.

With regards to his proposed line item vetoes, the Washington Post today reports, “Republicans’ majority in the House is large enough to override a veto, but not in the Senate, where they outnumber Democrats by just one.”

In addition to his Medicaid actions, Governor McAuliffe today announced several other line item vetoes including funding for new judgeships and funding for the General Assembly’s new ethics commission.  He believes the latter is too weak and intends to propose 2015 legislation to strengthen state ethics laws.

The Governor also said that he may well propose additional budget actions before his Sunday deadline.

To find the full statement made by the Governor click here.