RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said the budget he proposed as the General Assembly started its special session Monday is based on the budget his Republican predecessor Governor Bob McDonnell proposed when the session began -- but with 104 amendments that "reflect the Governor’s priorities."
Among those priorities, using federal tax dollars to expand Medicaid coverage to more Virginians.
“This budget is balanced and responsible, and it reflects the pressing urgency to take action to use our own tax dollars to cover up to 400,000 Virginia families over the next two years,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I am eager to get to work with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to find common ground so that we can end this stalemate, pass a budget and bring our federal dollars home to help 400,000 people access care that is essential to healthy and productive lives."
Some Republican lawmakers are not convinced the Democratic-governor's plan is right for Virginia. If Virginia chooses to opt out of Medicaid expansion after only two years, thousands of Virginians could lose health coverage.
"Individuals would say 'I did not know this was going to happen. Here I am comfortable with my coverage and you're going to take it away,'" State Senator Thomas Norment (R - James City County) said.
Under the governor's budget proposal, raises for state workers and new money for mental health programs, are directly tied to federal Medicaid dollars. The governor said he would take the heat if Medicaid expansion did not help Virginia.
"Let every camera have it clear, that it was the governor who will take full responsibility," Gov. McAuliffe said pointing to television cameras. "So everybody else is off the hook."
Governor McAuliffe said he hoped state lawmakers would have a budget passed within the next three weeks.