Governor Ralph Northam recently unveiled the budget that he will be proposing to the Virginia General Assembly as they prepare to return to Richmond on April 11 to finish their work on the Commonwealth’s biennial spending plan.
In a press conference, Governor Northam announced that he would introduce the same budget that the previous administration proposed in December. That budget includes language that would expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 400,000 Virginians and an assessment on state hospitals to cover the Commonwealth’s share of the costs.
Thanks to the savings the state will realize from Medicaid expansion, the budget makes significant investments in core economic priorities like education, workforce development, mental health services, opioid addiction prevention and pay raises for state employees, teachers and law enforcement professionals.
“Virginians have waited long enough for a balanced budget that expands health care access and invests in economic opportunity through education, workforce training, mental health and addiction services and better pay for public servants,” said Governor Northam. “The General Assembly will return on April 11 to pass the budget Virginians deserve, but we shouldn’t wait until then to get to work. My team and I are ready to work with the General Assembly money committees to get Virginia families, local governments, institutions of higher education and many others the certainty and resources they deserve by passing a budget that expands health coverage.”
Governor Northam also explained his approach to Medicaid expansion in the budget, saying, “The budget I am proposing expands health coverage to Virginians who need it in the most simple and straightforward way possible. I am aware that members of the General Assembly, particularly in the House of Delegates, support significant reforms to the Medicaid program that would accompany any expansion of coverage. That discussion will continue, but our starting point should be expanding health care to our fellow Virginians in the simplest and least restrictive way possible.”
Finally, the Governor announced that he would introduce an amendment to the introduced budget that would require any revenues above those that are forecast in this budget to be invested in a revenue reserve fund.
“The budget I am introducing makes a strong investment in our Commonwealth’s cash reserves. However, in a period of unprecedented volatility in Washington and economic uncertainty across the globe, we should do everything we can to shield Virginia taxpayers against an unexpected revenue shortfall. By including this amendment, we can maintain a fiscally conservative budget and send a message to Virginians and to the rating agencies that this budget will invest wisely while also preparing for unexpected downturns.”
For additional information on the Governor’s budget, please visit: http://dpb.virginia.gov/
-Submitted by Brian Coy