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Governor Northam calls special GA session to complete state budget

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam signed a proclamation Tuesday afternoon calling for a special General Assembly session to complete work on the state budget.

The special session, which could take days or weeks, will be held beginning on April 11.

The General Assembly adjourned last week without passing a biennial spending plan for the Commonwealth.

Northam said he was pleased with the bipartisan progress in this year’s General Assembly session, but disappointed that lawmakers were unable to agree upon a budget.

Democrats and Republicans have been debating whether or not to expand Medicaid.

The Governor released a statement about the forthcoming special session that read in part:

“Virginians sent us to Richmond to work together to make life better for every family, no matter who they are or where they live. We can live up to that responsibility by passing a budget that expands health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it. Expanding coverage will also generate savings that we can invest in education, workforce training, efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and a healthy cash balance to prepare for fiscal downturns.”

Northam said he intends to work with lawmakers to ensure a budget that expands coverage as quickly as possible.

He said he’s hopeful both sides can reach an agreement.

“It is my hope that people from across the Commonwealth will continue to speak to their legislators about the need to bring our tax dollars home to benefit our families, our economy, and our budget,” wrote Northam. “We shouldn’t have to wait any longer for a budget that reflects the priorities of the Virginians who sent us here to serve.”

Parker Slaybaugh, the speaker’s communications director of House Speaker Kirk Cox, released a statement about the special session:

“The House of Delegates will convene on April 11th to continue work on the General Assembly’s constitutional obligation to produce a balanced budget. It is almost certain that April 11th will be the start, not the end, of this process, but the House will work as quickly as possible toward a resolution. Speaker Cox is hopeful that everyone is able to return to Richmond with clear minds and a fresh perspective on the budget. We look forward to continuing conversations with the Governor and the Senate.”