Virginia lawmakers, Gov. McAuliffe agree on cuts

WASHINGTON – The Virginia General Assembly will renew the debate about whether to expand Medicaid.

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe promised during his campaign for governor that the state would provide health care to 400,000 of Virginia’s uninsured residents.

Republicans have questioned whether expanding Medicaid is in the financial best interest of the state, but a hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell said the issue will receive a “fair and balanced hearing.”

McAuliffe and state lawmakers on Monday announced cuts to state agencies, universities, and local governments to help fill a projected budget gap and preserve Virginia’s AAA bond rating.

“We as leaders have got to make decisions about the numbers that are in front of us,” McAuliffe said, in Richmond.

The governor and Republican lawmakers said they have agreed to cuts of $192 million to state agencies, $90 million for higher education, and $60 million for aid to local governments over the next two years.

The budget plan won’t affect K-12 spending and will not include any increase in fees or taxes. Virginia officials also plan to tap the rainy day fund.

McAuliffe praised GOP lawmakers for their willingness to work with him to address a projected $882 million shortfall over the two year period, saying the bipartisan approach was needed “to send a signal to Wall Street” and preserve the state’s bond rating.

Northern Virginia has been affected by more than $9 billion in cuts from the Department of Defense in the past three years, according to McAuliffe.

The Associated Press and WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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