Every week we are seeing more delays to Obamacare - not from Republicans - but from the Obama Administration itself and by those who previously supported Obamacare. Last week the UNITE HERE union said that Obamacare "threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage."
So when the President himself and his supporters are calling for delays and changes to Obamacare - why would we want to expand Obamacare in Virginia?
Unfortunately, that is what our new Virginia Governor and Democrats in the General Assembly are proposing we do and they are threatening to shut down the government if we don't expand their broken, failing program.
By threatening this Washington style government shutdown, Governor McAuliffe is putting our school systems at risk.
Governor McAuliffe and Senate Democrats are holding the budget hostage which also provides necessary funding for our schools, teachers, police officers, firefighters and local governments. Threatening a state government shutdown if you don't get what you want is not the Virginia way.
During the final days of the 2014 Session last week, the House and Senate budget bottom lines were separated by just $26 million and the remaining differences could easily have been resolved in days, if not sooner. And yet we ended session on Saturday, March 8th without passing the budget because Governor McAuliffe and our colleagues from the Senate are holding the budget hostage over the expansion of Obamacare.
Passing a State budget cannot wait. School systems and local governments are deciding on final budgets as we speak and they need certainty from Richmond to finalize their work. Our county governments are in the midst of budget discussions right now, and will have to either raise taxes or cut services if critical State funds are not available.
In yesterday's top opinion, the Richmond Times-Dispatch says responsibility for the current budget impasse rests with Governor Terry McAuliffe and General Assembly Democrats. The Times Dispatch also urges the Governor and the Senate to consider Medicaid separately from the state budget. For the full editorial, click here.
If a shutdown does occur - or even if the disagreement drags on much beyond the March 24 special session announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe - blame ought to fall on those who are doing here what congressional Republicans were accused of doing: holding the budget hostage. In this case, that would be the governor and Senate Democrats.
...we see no need to link the Medicaid dispute to the state budget....It's time to decouple Medicaid expansion from the budget and settle each issue separately.
In a letter to Governor McAuliffe, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York said, "Without timely action on the state budget by both the state legislative and executive branches, local government budget decision-making is nearly impossible to finalize, and the threat of a July 1 shutdown of nonessential state operations is a real possibility."
Here are some important deadlines to keep in mind:
- Every local government must approve a budget and fix its tax rate by July 1st.
- Every locality is required by law to adopt its annual school budget by May 1st, or at least 30 days after receiving an state estimate of state aid whichever is later.
- All local school divisions must notify its teachers of any reductions in force due to a decrease in the school budget within two weeks of approval of the school budget, but no later than June 1st.
Last fall, then candidate Terry McAuliffe urged "all members of Virginia's congressional delegation to stop using the threat of a government shutdown as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, including over the health care law."
He continued: "We cannot let ideological battles get in the way of what is best for our economy and our communities, particularly when those battles endanger our economic recovery and our military's ability to keep us safe."
The House has also offered a responsible compromise - once the General Assembly passes a budget, the Governor should call and we are willing to participate in a separate special session to debate Obamacare's Medicaid expansion as a stand alone issue. Governor McAuliffe refused.