Gov. Terry McAuliffe has vetoed part of a roughly $96 billion two-year budget that is aimed at ensuring the Democratic governor cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval. McAuliffe announced his plans during a news conference Friday at the Capitol.
McAuliffe says he's using his line-item veto powers on seven items on the budget approved by the Virginia House and Senate. The biggest one is aimed ensuring the Democratic governor cannot expand Medicaid without legislative approval. McAuliffe said he considered vetoing the whole budget but knew that would hurt the state.
Last week, state lawmakers passed a two-year budget that did not include expanding Medicaid eligibility. The governor and most Democrats in the Virginia House and Senate support expansion, while most Republicans do not. The veto on this one item comes even though McAuliffe says he has no illusions that Republicans are interested in compromising on the issue.
The governor says the budget was completed almost three months late, after the GOP leadership refused to take even the most modest steps toward closing the health care coverage gap.
“It is unconscionable that one of the wealthiest states, in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, does not provide health care to its needy citizens, particularly when we have already paid for it. Providing health care to people who are sick is a moral imperative,” McAuliffe stated.
The six other line-item vetoes range from funding the Ethics Advisory Commission to language about how new judgeships will be paid for. McAuliffe says other vetoes may be added to the list.
State House Republicans say they'll review the vetoes to see if they fit within the narrow window allowed for by Virginia’s constitution. They also say the governor has no authority to expand Medicaid unilaterally or without the specific approval of the General Assembly.
Lawmakers return to Richmond Monday to address the vetoes. But given how close the party split is in the Senate, it's considered unlikely that the GOP can muster the two-thirds vote needed to override the line-item vetoes.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.