Governor Northam introduced his proposed state budget today, after calling legislators back for a Special Session on the budget on April 11th. The Governor is again calling for Medicaid expansion, but rejecting the work requirement passed by the House of Delegates.
After four years of rejecting Medicaid expansion, House Republicans finally passed a budget including expansion this year, but with a requirement that some recipients work. Senate Republicans, however, rejected Medicaid expansion altogether.
Governor Northam is re-proposing the same budget that outgoing Governor Terry McAuliffe introduced in December. It includes expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to nearly 400,000 Virginians and an assessment on state hospitals to cover the Commonwealth's share of the costs.
"I'm still willing to work with them and listen to their concerns," said Governor Northam of the opposing legislators. "However after the General Assembly's difficulty in finding that common ground before the regular session adjourned, I'm proposing a budget that returns to what we would call a clean Medicaid expansion without work requirements."
Despite Senate Republicans rejecting the proposal already, Northam is still hopeful of finding common ground.
"I'm encouraged that we have allowed our legislators to go home, catch their breath, because it is a busy 60 days to go home and listen to their constituents. But I don't think we're that far apart and I've always been a glass is half full person," said Northam.
But the Governor did propose one change to the budget. It's a measure to help protect the state's AAA bond rating.
"I am proposing an amendment to shore up the Commonwealth's finances by ensuring any additional revenues above our forecast will not be spent. This will be set aside in our reserve fund to protect Virginia from a sudden downturn," he said.
House leadership praised the amendment in a statement, reading in part: "The budget introduced today does not rely on a revenue reforecast and commits a major share of surplus revenues to a reserve fund that is critical to protecting our Triple-A bond rating. The House always takes a conservative and responsible approach to estimating revenue, and we are committed to utilizing the current revenue forecast as we craft the budget."
The statement did not respond to Northam's Medicaid expansion proposal.
Senate Republican leadership did not respond to our request for comment on the budget proposal.