Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), Majority Whip Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) and Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued the following statement Saturday:
“At the end of the 2014 session, the work of the Virginia General Assembly is incomplete. We are deeply disappointed that the Governor and his allies in the Democrat-controlled Senate have prevented the General Assembly from passing a budget on time.
“Crafting the state budget is the General Assembly’s most important obligation. A budget delay will have a significant impact across the Commonwealth. The business community, school boards, colleges and universities and local governments all depend on the timely passage of a budget.
“The House and Senate budget bottom lines are separated by only $26 million – less than one tenth of one percent of the entire state budget. The differences could be worked out in very short order, but the Governor and Senate refuse to come to the table to discuss anything but Obamacare. Since last year, in recent public appearances and in multiple private meetings, the Governor has made it absolutely clear that he will not negotiate unless Obamacare is part of Virginia’s budget.
“Regardless of how you feel about Obamacare, holding hostage funding for our schools, teachers, police officers, firefighters and local governments is wrong. Virginia’s budget and AAA bond rating are not bargaining chips. We have offered a prudent path forward. We believe Virginia’s first priority is passing a clean budget that funds our schools, roads, colleges, healthcare system and local governments. Then, we can debate the issue of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in a special session.
“We doubt little progress will be made in the coming weeks. The Governor has delayed the special session until March 24 so he can continue his campaign-style tour with hospital executives. He was adamant when he met with House leaders yesterday that he will not budge, no matter what the stakes. We will continue to urge the Governor to reconsider, let Virginia pass a clean budget and then consider the issue of Obamacare in a special session.”