Shutdown looms if lawmakers don’t overcome Medicaid expansion hurdle

Posted at 6:39 PM, May 19, 2014

RICHMOND, Va.(WTVR) -- The Virginia government could shutdown if there is no state budget set by July 1st.

"We work for you -- help us out guys," Steven, a state worker who did not want to give his last name, told CBS 6.

"It worries me," he added.

Steven's concern is a valid one, if there is no budget, there could be no paychecks for hundreds of thousands of state employees.

Essential services, such as the DMV or VDOT, could be impacted as well.

Concerns were not eased Monday after the House Appropriations Committee held a briefing on scenarios for what would happen if the government fails to reach a budget compromise.

At issue, Medicaid expansion. Democrats want it, Republicans - for the most part - don't.

Under a possible  shutdown, workers could be paid in IOUs instead of cash, beginning July 1st.

The governor and other constitutional officers, like judges, would keep getting paid since their salaries are required by the Constitution.

Legislative lawyers who briefed the House Committee reiterated this was "uncharted waters" for the commonwealth since a shutdown has never occurred.

The lawyers said that Governor Terry McAuliffe does have the power to still declare emergencies under a shutdown.

They also contended services like the Food Stamp program and child support payments would continue.

Those lawyers said as well that Governor McAuliffe does not have legislative authority to keep government funded on his own, emphasizing that the General Assembly is the only branch of government allowed to appropriate funds.

The governor disagrees.

"I do," Governor Terry McAuliffe told reporters following a late afternoon meeting with budget leaders Monday.

"We are not going to shutdown this government," he reiterated.

McAuliffe did not deliver specifics as to why he believes he has the unilateral authority to keep the government open if there is no budget compromise.

McAuliffe's Secretary of Finance Ric Brown said he does not believe the governor could access the rainy day funds on his own in the event of a shutdown.

"I think someone is confused," Delegate Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said afterwards.

Jones is Chairman of the Appropriation Committee.

A sense of urgency surrounded lawmakers Monday after revenue estimates were revealed for May that show nearly a $300 million dollar shortfall.

Brown said that a lack of a budget as well as the revenue projects could impact bond rating firms.

"It will change their perspective on what they think of Virginia," Brown said.



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