Democrats fuming after Senate fails to take up budget

virginia general assemblyThe State Senate still has not passed a state budget for the 2018-2020 biennium, as Republicans fight amongst themselves over Medicaid expansion.

Senate GOP leaders kicked the can down the road, scheduling a meeting of the Finance Committee for next week to take up a new budget plan.

Gov. Ralph Northam led a chorus of Democrats blasting Republicans for the continued inaction.

“Today the leadership of the Virginia Senate asked the people of this Commonwealth to wait yet another week before the body acts on a budget. The continued delays and procedural stall tactics that we are seeing from the Senate create uncertainty for families and local governments, threaten Virginia’s bond rating and run afoul of this Commonwealth’s reputation for efficient and effective government,” Northam said in a statement.

“This unnecessary delay is made more insulting to Virginians by the reality that the House of Delegates passed a budget that expands health care weeks ago, and a majority of Senators have indicated they would vote for a similar measure if the Senate would simply put one on the floor. Virginians have waited long enough. It’s time to pass a budget that expands Medicaid and invests in the future of our economy,” Northam said.

Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) pledged to get a budget with Medicaid expansion included to Northam’s desk.

“Healthcare is not a privilege; it is a right,” Saslaw said. “A lot of us here have had a lot of breaks in our lives, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t get these breaks. They work hard, but for one reason or another, things don’t turn out right for them. These are the people who need our help.”

Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, used similar language to “cast a bright spotlight on what is happening here.”

“We have a minority of the Senate of Virginia delaying and obstructing the will of the majority of the Senate of Virginia, the will of the majority of the House of Delegates, the will of the governor, and most importantly the overwhelming will of Virginians,” Howell said. “Virginians overwhelmingly want Medicaid expansion, and while we are diddling and dawdling here on the Senate Floor, people are suffering. Some people are dying. And we diddle and we dawdle and we delay. I think it’s time, Mr President, that we get real here and do what we know has to be done and pass the budget and help Virginians.”