Governor Terry McAuliffe held a news conference Friday (see Terry McAuliffe: Statement on 2015-16 budget actions) to announce his intentions with the state budget and Medicaid. The Roanoke Times noted:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe will try to bypass the General Assembly to expand health coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians, while attempting to block legislative priorities ranging from judicial appointments to an overhaul of the Capitol complex in Richmond.
McAuliffe said Friday he will sign a two-year state budget that does not include his top legislative priority — expansion of Medicaid — in order to protect public services and Virginia’s AAA bond rating in the face of a projected $1.55 billion revenue shortfall.
The governor also discarded a politically paralyzed legislative commission on Medicaid reform as a way to expand health coverage. He promised instead to move forward without legislative consent to take advantage of billions in federal funding for the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.
“Let me be crystal clear: I am moving forward to get Virginians health care,” he said in a news conference at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.
Democrats hailed the action while Republicans said the Governor had no power to expand Medicaid on his own. Former Republican State Senator Brandon Bell used a sports analogy in his Facebook reaction to the Governor’s move:
In baseball it’s called an unforced error! Yes I did predict the Governor would do this. But the Republicans in the General Assembly made it easy for him. They added an amendment that would prevent the expansion of Medicaid. It was vetoed. Republicans have no way to override the veto, therefore the legislative intent will be interpreted by the courts as allowing him to move forward on expansion. The legislators’ zeal to “make a statement” prevented them from seeing the end of the chess match. It was a softball the Governor was able to hit out of the park … to keep baseball in it.
Stay tuned to this ongoing story….