Virginia lawmakers are hearing from members of the public about the budget impasse, but the expansion of Medicaid remains a sticky point.
State leaders still don't have a budget, even after concluding their regular session and a special session. Yesterday, Senate leaders convened a public hearing that featured sharp divisions about expanding health insurance for people who are living in poverty or with disabilities.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic lawmakers want a budget that expands Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 residents. But the GOP-controlled House of Delegates opposes Medicaid expansion.
Republican House Speaker Bill Howell is calling the Senate's public hearing a dog-and-pony show, urging Democrats to allow a state budget without Medicaid expansion to pass. Meanwhile, Governor McAuliffe has signed what state leaders call a "Caboose Budget Bill," which funds state government through the remainder of this fiscal year.
That means that unless some kind of compromise is reached before July 1, the Virginia government could shut down for the first time in history.