HARRISONBURG — A state budget could be finished as early as Thursday night, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, said Tuesday morning.
At worse, he and other area lawmakers said, a deal will be struck next week, well in time of avoiding a possible government shutdown on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Hanger and three GOP members of the House of Delegates — Todd Gilbert of Woodstock, Steve Landes of Weyers Cave and Tony Wilt of Broadway — attended the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce’s post-session breakfast Tuesday in Harrisonburg.
A budget stalemate that has lasted since the regular session ended on March 8 appears close to a resolution after Sen. Phil Puckett, D-Russell, suddenly resigned this week, giving Republicans control of the Senate.
That took the “wind out of the sails” of Senate Democrats, who have refused to vote on a House budget that didn’t include a form of Medicaid expansion, Hanger said.
While Hanger has joined Democrats to support expansion through private insurers, he didn’t want to see a government shutdown. The Senate and House convene Thursday, and it’s expected the Senate will act on the House budget, possibly sending a “pre-approved” plan back to the House to then send to Gov. Terry McAuliffe that night, Hanger said.
Medicaid expansion to up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians would then be approached during a separate General Assembly session or separate bill, he said.
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