The newly-enacted state budget, put into place after the surprise resignation of a Southwestern Virginia state senator turned control of the Senate over to Republicans, arrived at the governor’s office Monday, starting the seven-day clock for the Terry McAuliffe to either sign the bill, veto part of it or reject the entire thing.
Democrat McAuliffe is not saying at this point what he plans to do with the budget, which not only does not include the Medicaid expansion he wants under Obamacare, but also contains amendments aimed at blocking any attempts to add changes to Mediciad for at least two years.
McAuliffe may try to single out the anti-Medicaid amendments with specific vetoes but the law on whether or not a governor can target amendments is unclear and Republicans in both the House and Senate of the GOP-controlled General Assembly promise a legal challenge if he tries.
This drama comes as Virginia heads into the final two weeks of the current fiscal year without a budget in place for the new year that starts on July 1.
So what will McAuliffe do? He’s not saying at this point.
“We will look at it, my policy team and myself will go through it,” said before actually receiving the budget.
“It’s too early to tell,” he adds.
It may also be too late for him to do anything else.
The latest round of legislative stunts began when Democratic State Sen. Phillip Puckett of Russell submitted his sudden and immediate resignation, saying he position as a Senator threatened a pending appointment of his daughter as a judge.
Puckett, at the time, was also under consideration for a big bucks position with the Virginia tobacco commission, raising speculation that a behind-closed-doors deal may have been cut to get rid of him in the Senate so Republicans could take control. His resignation gave Democrats a one-vote Senate majority.
Puckett removed his name from consideration for the tobacco commission job, claiming his daughter’s future was more important but that has not calmed down Virginia Democrats who sense a “fix” was in the works in the middle of a state budget crisis.
House Minority Leader David Toscano wants an investigation by the state inspector general. Republicans, he claims, are not above such sleight-of-hand tricks.
Republicans deny any back room deals.