Terry McAuliffe: Tea Party took control of General Assembly - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Terry McAuliffe: Tea Party took control of General Assembly

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

A day after Republicans launched a political power play and rejected Gov. Terry McAuliffe's top campaign promise – expanding Medicaid for 400,000 Virginians – the Governor blamed an emboldened Tea Party for a tense budget standoff.

"I think it's clear from what you saw that the Tea Party took control of the General Assembly last night," said McAuliffe in an interview Friday. "After Eric Cantor's defeat, I think they felt emboldened."

Republicans in the Virginia House and Senate passed a budget late Thursday, without McAuliffe's main priority of expanding Medicaid. The Governor must now decide whether to sign, amend, or veto the Commonwealth's budget, as Virginia nears three weeks from a potential government shutdown.

A potential shutdown scenario would unfold if there is no budget in place by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. McAuliffe did not offer specifics on what action he would take concerning the budget in the coming days.

"It's too early to tell," McAuliffe said. "We actually have to take the time to go through [the budget]."

According to a statement Friday from House Majority Leader Bill Howell (R-Stafford), the current budget addresses a projected $1.5 billion shortfall by cutting spending and steering clear from Medicaid expansion.

"This is a responsible, conservative budget that closes the $1.5 billion revenue shortfall while protecting investments in some core areas like K-12 education, mental health and the state employee retirement system," Howell said Friday. "I am deeply concerned about Medicaid expansion and what it would mean to Virginia."

Millions of dollars have been cut from earlier budget models, affecting planned raises for Virginia's 107,000 state government employees.

The House and Senate budget slashed planned new spending for higher education by $184 million. Public school funds also fell by $166 million.

It will take between three to five days to print and deliver a physical copy of Virginia's budget to the Governor's desk. Once McAuliffe receives the budget, he has seven days to decide what if any changes he will make.

"I want to make sure what's in [the budget] is something I can live with, and is in the best interests of the Commonwealth of Virginia," McAuliffe said.

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