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Gov. Terry McAuliffe: Compromise needed in budget stalemate

Tuesday, May. 27 | By Jonathan Hunley
Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks to a group of chambers of commerce Tuesday morning in Culpeper. He said House of Delegates Republicans need to compromise on Medicaid expansion. Photo by Ian Chini
CULPEPER – Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that House of Delegates Republicans need to compromise so a state budget can be passed, but a GOP lawmaker said it's the Democrat who's not negotiating.

McAuliffe told a group of chambers of commerce here that the issue of Medicaid expansion, which is holding up passage of a spending plan for Virginia, shouldn't be political.

He referred to his business career and said that compromise on the matter must happen.

"You don't always get what you want," he said. "But 'no, no, no, no' is not an effective answer."

However, Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, who represents part of Fauquier County, said that he and his Republican colleagues have offered a deal: pass a budget without Medicaid expansion and then hold a special legislative session to discuss the issue.

"That's the compromise," said Lingamfelter, reached by phone after McAuliffe's appearance at the Culpeper Center.

The Woodbridge Republican said that Medicaid expansion could end up costing Virginia more than it would bring to the state in federal funds.

And he said that McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats in the state Senate are "holding the budget hostage" because they couldn't get Medicaid expansion passed any other way.

That's not "good government," Lingamfelter said, and it could end up shutting down state agencies if a budget isn't approved by July 1, when the next fiscal year begins.

"Don't punish state workers because you want to achieve a political victory," Lingamfelter said.

But McAuliffe told a crowd of about 100 that because Virginia hasn't expanded Medicaid, it has "forfeited" $732 million since Jan. 1, federal money that could have been used to provide health care to up to 400,000 residents or create new jobs.

Meanwhile, the governor said, other states, including some led by Republicans, have chosen to take the federal funds.

In addition, not expanding Medicaid means not using tax money that Virginians already have paid to the federal government, he said.

"Folks, that's irresponsible," McAuliffe said to those attending the event sponsored by the chambers of commerce in Warrenton and in Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison and Orange counties.

The state's chief executive noted, too, the recent news that state tax collection for the current fiscal year is $300 million less than expected.

That makes it even more important to take the Medicaid expansion deal, McAuliffe said: Why should Virginia turn down money when it has a $300 million gap to close?

Local governments also have worried about how they would operate if state agencies shut down. McAuliffe said after the event that they're "going to be OK," though he didn't offer any specific proposals.

For more on this story, see Wednesday's Fauquier Times.

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