State budget battle impacts healthcare, school decisions

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – A special session of the General Assembly is over for some Virginia lawmakers. Members of the House of Delegates are headed home after they passed a budget Tuesday night. The Virginia Senate failed to pass a budget of its own.

The House budget includes no plans to expand Medicaid for nearly 400,000 Virginians, including children.

The debate over whether to expand the federal healthcare program divided state Republican and Democratic lawmakers during this General Assembly session.

The Medicaid expansion is a key part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Democrats argued without expanding the program, the state would miss out on federal aid. Republican House members said Medicaid should not be a part of the state budget and worried if the federal government is unable to cover the expansion for the next three years as promised, the Commonwealth would be forced to pick up the tab.

Without an approval to the roughly $96 billion two-year budget, local school districts could also be in limbo, unable to finalize school budgets.

Virginia colleges would not be able to set tuition rates because without knowing how much money to expect from the state.

State lawmakers have until July 1 to reach a budget agreement in order to avoid a government shutdown.