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Virginia budget could be $2.4B short as governor pushes health insurance expansion

By   /   August 15, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

BUDGET SHORTFALL: Virginia is going to have to make some massive budget cuts to rein in a $2.4B shortfall.

BAD NEWS-BUDGET: Virginia is going to have to make some massive budget cuts to rein in a $2.4B shortfall.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Virginia’s bleak financial outlook just got gloomier.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe told members of the joint House and Senate money committees on Friday that Virginia is projected to rake in $2.4 billion less than it’s budgeted to spend during a three-year period. That’s almost a billion more than the shortfall state officials had projected earlier this year.

And that means there will be major budget cuts — cuts the Democratic governor said he’ll announce by the end of the year. The state also will dip into its reserves to close the money gap.

McAuliffe said Virginia needs to back off on its dependence on Washington, D.C., blaming defense cuts to Virginia’s military-heavy Hampton Roads area for much of the downturn.

Even as he emphasized that cuts need to be made, however, he also made another thing clear — he’s going to find a way to expand health care options for Virginia’s poor, and he’s ready to use the power of his executive office to do so.

McAuliffe has asked Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel to have a plan to expand health care for low-income individuals on his desk by Sept. 1.

“I will then shortly announce the actions I will take to use the authority of my office to expand health care to Virginians,” the governor said in his prepared remarks.

Republicans thwarted attempts by McAuliffe and other Democrats’ attempts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act this spring and summer. With a long-time blue seat in the Senate likely to turn red in a special election next week, chances look slim for him to win the battle legislatively.

McAuliffe also talked about new jobs that have come to the state since he took office in January, including multiple deals with Chinese companies.

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau, and can be found on Twitter @kathrynw5.

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Kathryn formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.