RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – What’s the latest on the state budget? Are state republicans involved in a “war on women?”
Those are just a couple of questions Gov. Bob McDonnell answered Thursday on WRVA’s “Ask the Governor” program with host Jimmy Barrett.
While still enjoying high approval ratings in Virginia, McDonnell is seeing those numbers drop in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
One reason is his stance on abortion law. Another is failing to find compromise with the minority democrats on a state budget.
Lawmakers are back in special session, trying to work out their budget differences.
The General Assembly adjourned earlier this month after senate democrats voted against two versions of the proposed $85 billion spending plan.
Democrats said they want more money spent on education, health care and transportation.
The governor said that if the state can’t come up with a budget soon it will put Virginia’s AAA credit rating at risk. It will also hurt local city and county governments trying to stabilize their own budgets.
“I think they’re serious about it,” McDonnell told one caller to the show. “I think they had good meetings yesterday. I think they’re putting aside politics the best I can discern and they’re focusing on how to bridge the gap on the dollars and that’s progress.”
McDonnell also talked about one of the most controversial issues he’s been a part of, the ultrasound bill that requires a woman to have an abdominal ultrasound 24 hours before having an abortion.
Conservatives and pro-life advocates said it gives women more information about the gestational age of the fetus and can help the mother make a fully informed decision.
Opponents of the bill said it is an unnecessary procedure being used to make women feel guilty and shame them into not going through with an abortion.
McDonnell said his signing the bill was not a “war on women” as some democrats called it.
“I think this is just a political smokescreen the democrats are putting in place in an election year because they’ve got a horrible record on debt, taxes, spending, energy, and gas prices,” he said. “So they want to talk about something else.”
In a worst case scenario, if no state budget is released by July 1, it could mean some of the government shuts down.
Additionally, the abortion debate is also influencing the state budget negotiations.
Senate democrats said they want the state to pay for those newly mandated ultrasounds by putting more money towards Medicaid.