Governor Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement on the budget proposals released by the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia today:
“I commend the budget writers in both houses of the General Assembly for their hard work and commitment to continuing the Virginia tradition of balanced and responsible budgeting. In both the House and the Senate budgets, there are many areas where we can find common ground to grow Virginia’s economy and strengthen communities across the Commonwealth.
“I applaud members of the House and the Senate for increasing Virginia’s commitment to higher education and for adopting my recommendation to include additional funds to help localities in Northern Virginia compete for the best school support staff.
“I also applaud both houses for providing additional funds in their budgets for mental health reform. We have seen the system fail too many times here in Virginia, and the commitment from both houses to address this issue is an encouraging sign that we can make meaningful reforms this year.
“However, the greatest opportunity we have to invest in mental health reform, cover more Virginia families and grow our economy lies in accepting federal funds to close the healthcare coverage gap here in Virginia.
“I commend the Senate of Virginia for including in their budget a market-based path toward accepting this funding. That proposal will serve as a foundation for productive discussions about how best to cover more working families, create more jobs and save the state as much as $1 billion in the next eight years.
“I am disappointed that the House budget fails to accept more than $2 billion per year in federal tax dollars that should be directed to Virginia families. Instead, the House uses $45 million in state tax dollars for an inadequate and inefficient stopgap measure to attempt to help our hospitals. It is fiscally irresponsible to ask Virginians to pay this cost twice. The House should join an overwhelming majority of Virginia business leaders, health providers and 27 other states that have decided to utilize federal resources to close the coverage gap. This is clearly a case of partisan ideology driving a bad business decision.
“As the process moves forward, I plan to work with members of both chambers to ensure we have adequate investments in economic development incentives, life sciences and cybersecurity so that we can continue to grow industries that are central to our economic competitiveness.
“I look forward to working with members of both parties and both chambers to find common ground on these and many other issues that will benefit all Virginians and keep our economy strong.”