McAuliffe on passing state budget: "Not my job"

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 23 at 5:42 PM

PORTSMOUTH -- As state lawmakers headed back to work in Richmond Wednesday, Governor Terry McAuliffe made a trip to Portsmouth to speak before a statewide assembly of sheriffs at their annual spring convention.

The Virginia General Assembly convened in a special session on Wednesday in hopes of wrapping up some legislative loose ends, the largest of which is a budget.

Despite a looming July 1, 2014 deadline, lawmakers still show no sign of reaching a budget compromise and did not take up the issue during Wednesday's special session.

In his remarks to the sheriffs, McAuliffe touted line items to improve pay and benefits for law enforcement officers. But those proposals will never become reality if a budget is not passed.

In an exclusive interview with 13News Now after his speech, McAuliffe said he is not responsible for passing a budget.

"The General Assembly has to do their job," he said. "The governor doesn't pass budgets. I sign them."

The main sticking point holding up a budget deal is McAuliffe's insistence on including additional money to expand Medicaid coverage.

The state senate, which is controlled by Democrats, passed a budget that included the additional money. That money was missing from the budget passed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.

"The budget was almost agreed to.  The one only unagreed thing was Medicaid," explained Republican delegate Greg Habeeb (R-Roanoke). "We asked the governor to extend session by 30 days and he refused."

Democrats in the Senate have refused to consider the House's budget.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe said lawmakers are shirking their responsibilities by failing to reach an agreement.

But Habeeb and other Republicans have said McAuliffe could do more to strong arm Senate Democrats into striking a deal.

"If the governor told them to do it, I'm fairly confident they would get it done," Habeeb said. "So the fact that he refuses to use the governor's office to try to get it passed, that is a problem."

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