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New Proposal Could Give Budget Stalemate Shot in the Arm - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

New Proposal Could Give Budget Stalemate Shot in the Arm

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Republican Senator Emmett Hanger, left, has a proposal that could bring compromise to a budget stalemate. Republican Senator Emmett Hanger, left, has a proposal that could bring compromise to a budget stalemate.
RICHMOND, Va (WVIR) -

After months of disagreement, state lawmakers could finally be moving toward a deal on Virginia's two-year, $97 billion budget. A new proposal could give languishing negotiations a shot in the arm.

The sticking point throughout has been Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats and House Republicans have been at odds for months. But this proposal could bring everyone back to the negotiating table at a crucial time.

A new idea from Senator Emmett Hanger, a longtime Republican lawmaker from the Shenandoah Valley who also happens to be one of the few Republicans in the General Assembly in favor of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, has the governor intrigued.

“Emmett Hanger has been so supportive of what we've tried to do to close the coverage gap, but I like the idea that he's putting forth. It's one more compromise,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Hanger wants lawmakers to pass a state budget without healthcare expansion, putting that decision back in the hands of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC). Then, after a series of new Medicaid reforms, expansion would occur October 1, unless a simple majority of the MIRC votes to stop it, flipping the decision of whether or not to approve expansion on its head.

McAuliffe says it's an idea that could get lawmakers closer to compromise on a budget.

“I am open to a compromise to get this done. We can do this with zero risk to the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

House Republicans are also optimistic, saying in a statement Thursday afternoon, "Senator Hanger has made a productive offer that leaves us encouraged about the prospects of reaching an agreement on the state budget...We will take a very close look at the proposal and immediately begin talking with Senator Hanger."

It's too early to know whether this really will help jumpstart negotiations in Richmond, but lawmakers have just one month to pass a budget. The deadline to avoid a potential state government shutdown is June 30.

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