The Budget Votes are in...Feb 23, 2018
The votes are in, and as of a few hours ago, the Virginia House and Senate now have two very different budgets to meld together into one. There are a few notable things for you to know.
House of Delegates:
Unfortunately, the House voted 68-32 for a budget that included a massive expansion of an already unsustainable Medicaid program. Several Republican members spoke against Medicaid expansion, emphasizing that it will most certainly entail higher healthcare costs, more taxes on Virginians, and diminished access and quality of care for the 1.1 million Virginians already enrolled in the program. We commend the 32 members who stood firmly against it. You can see who voted for and against it HERE.
On a positive note, the House did vote to keep the “Hyde Amendment” language in its budget (put in by Delegate LaRock) – language that would restrict taxpayer funding of abortions to only the narrow cases involving rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. Virginia law currently also allows for state funding of abortions in the cases of “gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency,” but we believe this phrase is being interpreted extremely broadly by the McAuliffe/Northam Department of Health officials. You can see who voted for and against the amendment HERE.
The House also stood strong in rejecting attempts to add special statuses of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state budget through amendments offered up on the floor (by Delegate Simon). This was one of the items we have been most concerned about, and we are thrilled that the House held the line on this. Few things so threaten religious liberty in Virginia as these efforts. You can see who voted for and against the amendment HERE.
These protections for life and religious liberty are no small matters, and we are mindful that they could not have been possible but for God’s direct provisions.
We are very pleased that the Senate held strong in rejecting Medicaid expansion in their budget. The Senate budget is also around $600 million smaller than the House’s. You can see who voted for and against the final Senate budget HERE. We also want to commend the Senate for rejecting a floor amendment from Senator Cosgrove that would have expanded gambling in Virginia.
We will continue to keep you in the loop on the critical steps going forward. The budget battle still has a ways to go. In the meantime, please reach out to your legislators to express to them both your concerns and your gratitude.