Amongst the delays – and ultimate failings – of the Virginia General Assembly to meet and determine a state budget, Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is striking out on his own.
In spite of staunch opposition of the House of Delegates, McAuliffe has been planning for future Medicaid expansion. Members of his office have stressed that the administration is only planning, not implementing, due to poorly executed rollouts in the past. With 400,000 new enrollees, Medicaid expansion includes a host of legal obstacles that must be sorted out, but some still believe that the preparation is premature.
Even in spite of the House’s steadfast opposition, McAuliffe remains optimistic that they will approve the expansion. However, his optimistic hope must actualize itself before July 1. The disagreement over Medicaid expansion is holding up the state budget discussion, with the Senate plan including expansion and the House version excluding it.
Due to the looming budget deadline, McAuliffe is also trying to determine whether or not he has the power to keep the government running even if a budget is not approved before July 1, a scenario that grows more imminent by the day. In addition to bitter disputes, Sen. Janet D. Howell, a crucial Senate budget negotiator, will be in South Africa until June 24.
“I’m sure nothing will happen until I get back,” Howell said.
Although McAuliffe seems optimistic that he will be able to keep most state functions running, he has been unclear in his plans. Opponents and allies alike are doubtful that he will be able to do anything more than maintain the most fundamental functions of the state.