RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he will sign the state budget, but will veto seven items as he blasted Republican leaders in the House of Delegates for failing to compromise on health care.
As passed, the $96 billion budget forces the governor to get legislative approval for Medicaid expansion. McAuliffe scolded lawmakers in Friday morning's news conference for not expanding Medicaid eligibility.
"They have turned their back time and time again," said Gov. McAuliffe about the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates. "This isn't about politics. This isn't about partisan issues."
Gov. McAuliffe said he would have rejected the budget entirely, but instead chose seven line-item vetoes to avoid a June 30 government shutdown.
The governor said "providing health care to people that are sick is a moral imperative" and announced his decision to veto the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission in its entirety. Instead, he pledged to work with the federal government, the insurance industry, hospitals, non-profits and others to provide health care in the Commonwealth. Health and Human Resources Secretary Williams Hazel will have a plan by September 1, according to the governor.
House Republican leaders issued a joint statement pledging to review the vetoes, while questioning their constitutionality.
"The Constitution and Supreme Court proscribe specific limits on the Governor's line-item veto authority," the statement reads. "We will review these vetoes to determine if they fall within the narrow scope of that authority, and once that review is complete the House will act accordingly."
The House will convene Monday to consider the vetoes. A two-thirds vote is required for an override.
Conservatives were quick to respond to the governor's actions, calling them partisan and unilateral.
"Governor McAuliffe has officially brought his hyper-partisan, Washington-style politics to Virginia by announcing that he intends to expand ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion by executive fiat," said Americans for Prosperity Virginia State Director Sean Lansing said in a written statement. "In the weeks and months ahead, AFP will work tirelessly to ensure that the people of Virginia know their governor has chosen to stop at nothing to get his way — even if it means ruling like a king."
The governor received support from liberal group ProgressVA, which applauded the vetoes.
"Governor McAuliffe took a definite step forward today towards closing the coverage gap," wrote ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl. "While there is still more work to be done, these actions demonstrate a commitment to the 400,000 Virginians who deserve access to affordable, quality health care."
The governor also announced he would veto funding for all new judgeships requiring only General Assembly confirmation.
Gov. McAuliffe also said he would veto funding for Chesterfield to partner with Petersburg on ongoing school issues. Additionally, he told the Department of General Services to stop any work on the new $300 million General Assembly Building which houses lawmakers offices.
Other vetoes include $4.4 million for the Federal Action Contingency Trust Fund, creation of a new ethics commission, and asset forfeiture settlement money.
House leaders called those vetoes "petty and politically motivated" and vowed to pursue all avenues in challenging the vetoes, including through the court system.