Two weeks after Virginia House lawmakers approved their version of the state budget, the Senate is putting forth a proposal of its own. But stalemate in the State Capitol could stick around a while longer.
It’s a new budget proposal in an old fight. House and Senate leaders are still at odds over healthcare expansion under the Affordable Care Act, tying up negotiations as localities try to pass their own spending plans.
Now, things are moving forward in Richmond, but it's only a matter of time before another road block.
“There is no urgency whatsoever on the part of the Senate,” said 66th District Delegate Kirk Cox (R).
“We're going to have to tone down some of the rhetoric,” said 24th District Senator Emmett Hanger (R).
A month after lawmakers adjourned the regular session of the General Assembly, it seems the rhetoric is only intensifying.
“Get a budget done. We're in April,” Cox said.
The Senate budget proposal, approved by a Democrat-controlled committee Monday morning, again includes a plan to expand health coverage to low-income Virginians, subsidizing private insurance using federal money.
Unlike many other Republicans, Hanger wants to expand health coverage, and thinks the Senate model is the right move.
“Whether you like or dislike Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, we're talking about healthcare for Virginians and we're talking about a significant amount of money,” he said.
Fellow Republican House Majority Leader Cox doesn't buy it.
“They're almost trying to figure out what they can market the best, and that's just not the way you do a budget,” Cox said.
He and other Republicans still want to consider healthcare and the budget separately. Two sides, digging in on a big disagreement, with no end in sight.
“Hopefully during the month of April we'll forge a compromise,” Hanger said.
Cox said, “I am very fearful that we're going to stretch this out 'til June.”
This is all set against a bleak backdrop of places like Charlottesville and Albemarle County trying to pass their budgets with uncertainty coming from Richmond.
Charlottesville City Council is scheduled to adopt its budget at a meeting this Friday. Albemarle will take up its spending plan next Tuesday.