McAuliffe Hopeful On Deal
Governor Talks On Budget At Ice House
HARRISONBURG — During a visit to the city Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Terry McAuliffe maintained his hopes that the General Assembly will adopt a budget, preferably with an expansion of Medicaid included, by the end of the month.
“At some point,” he said in an interview, “common sense prevails.”
Although McAuliffe feels there’s still “plenty of time” for the Senate and House of Delegates to compromise, the deadline is fast approaching: The current fiscal year ends June 30, and lawmakers have made no progress since adjourning from their regular session March 8.
The General Assembly, especially House Republicans who oppose Medicaid expansion, should take a page from James Madison University, McAuliffe said.
The governor was in Harrisonburg to celebrate the opening of JMU’s offices within the Ice House, a mixed-used development on South Liberty Street and at 127 W. Bruce St.
The university’s communications, outreach and engagement, adult degree program, behavioral economics and technology innovation departments and more occupy the four floors of the Bruce Street building. The South Liberty building will have apartments, two restaurants, a brewery, yoga studio and jewelry workshop and museum once finished.
The “great” collaborative efforts of JMU and local and state governments — Harrisonburg received a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to jumpstart the project — make the Ice House, and business ventures in general, a success, McAuliffe said.
The same willingness to compromise has not extended to Medicaid talks in Richmond, he said.
McAuliffe says House Republicans have refused to offer a suggestion on how to extend health care to as many as 400,000 Virginians through the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
“I have compromised and compromised,” he said. “I’m waiting ... for one, just one idea. We can get this done very quickly.”
McAuliffe said expansion is the “morally” correct approach and better for Virginia’s economy, adding that 30,000 jobs would be created.
Yet as a sign of the continued disconnect, Republicans are staying firm that McAuliffe and his Democratic allies in the Senate “seem oblivious to the harm they are inflicting on Virginians,” the House Republican Campaign Committee said in a prepared statement on Wednesday.
The statement references a Richmond Times-Dispatch article that a key Democratic senator, Janet Howell of Fairfax, is leaving the country until June 24, cutting time to negotiate even shorter.
“Governor McAuliffe and Senate Democrats have held the budget, and the eight million Virginians who depend on it, hostage for 88 days in an effort to bring Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion to Virginia,” the statement reads. “The budget crisis is creating tremendous uncertainty for local governments and threatens Virginia’s AAA bond rating.”
McAuliffe, at least publicly, is not showing signs of panic of what missing the budget deadline might mean.
“This government will continue to operate,” he said. “I’m still optimistic. I’m hopeful. ... I assume [a budget] is going to be done.”
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org