As the tock clicks toward June 30, Governor McAuliffe's top allies in the Senate seem oblivious to the harm they are inflicting on Virginians.
Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) says there has been "no great outcry" to end the budget crisis, and now Senator and budget conferee Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) is leaving the country until June 24.
Meanwhile, for local governments and school boards, everything is on hold:
Superintendent Scott Brabrand sounded a note of worry about the not-yet-passed state budget during a Lynchburg City School Board meeting Tuesday night. In theory, school board members will vote to finalize the 2014-15 school year operating budget June 17, so Brabrand presented a budget summary document for their review. He cautioned the board may not be able to move ahead with finalizing the budget at that last planned school board meeting of the fiscal year, if state lawmakers don’t approve their own budget in the meantime. “We are not in a position yet to approve this budget until the state gives us guidance,” he said. “Everything really is on hold.”
Governor McAuliffe and Senate Democrats have held the budget, and the eight million Virginians who depend on it, hostage for 88 days in an effort to bring Obamacare's Medicaid expansion to Virginia. They are refusing to fund our schools, roads, first responders and local governments unless they get their way on Obamacare.
The budget crisis is creating tremendous uncertainty for local governments and threatens Virginia's AAA bond rating. With the Commonwealth facing a budget shortfall in excess of $1 billion, their refusal to act could leave budget writers without access to the rainy day fund, forcing significant cuts to core functions of government.
House leaders have offered a clear path to resolution: set aside Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and pass a budget immediately. This position is supported by over 100 local governments, school boards, business groups and local elected officials. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce says lawmakers should "set aside" any issue that may create an impasse and pass a budget to protect Virginia's reputation as a great state for business.
It is long past time to end this budget crisis. Governor McAuliffe and his allies should drop their demands for Obamacare, compromise and pass a clean budget right away.