Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Governor McAuliffe Releases FY2015-16 Budget as Special Session Begins

McAuliffe speaking at Frying Pan Park in Hernd...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
McAuliffe budget closes health care coverage gap, invests in key priorities

Richmond, VA – As the General Assembly begins its special session today, Governor Terry McAuliffe released a two-year budget for the legislature to consider and pass in order to conclude its work for the year. The Governor’s budget is based on the budget introduced by his predecessor at the beginning of the legislative session, with 104 amendments that reflect the Governor’s priorities, including using Virginians’ own federal tax dollars to close the health care coverage gap.

“This budget is balanced and responsible, and it reflects the pressing urgency to take action to use our own tax dollars to cover up to 400,000 Virginia families over the next two years,” said Governor McAuliffe. “By accepting those dollars and realizing the hundreds of millions savings we will reap in this budget by closing the coverage gap, we will also be able to increase Virginia’s commitment to state employees, teachers, first responders, and many other essential functions of our state government.

“At the urging of Republicans in the House of Delegates, I have agreed to introduce a two-year pilot program to close the health care coverage gap so that we can provide coverage now, and reevaluate at the end of those two years. This proposal gives Virginia the flexibility to ensure that the program works for our citizens and our budget before moving forward. And I am pleased to announce that the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has advised Virginia that we can end the program without penalty if it does not serve Virginians well over those two years.

“Passing this budget, which closes the health care coverage gap and invests in our core priorities, is the right thing to do for Virginia families. I am eager to get to work with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate to find common ground so that we can end this stalemate, pass a budget and bring our federal dollars home to help 400,000 people access care that is essential to healthy and productive lives.

“Now is the time to put politics aside and act for the good of the families we serve. Virginians have waited long enough.”

Below are highlights of the Governor’s budget:

Closing the Healthcare Coverage Gap:
ü  2-Year Pilot, with federal approval to withdraw if necessary
ü  Up to 400,000 Virginians Covered
ü  $225 Million in Net Savings
ü  Bring Our Taxpayer Dollars Back to Virginia
ü  No Permanent Obligation

New investments in the McAuliffe Budget:
ü  $100 million in the Virginia Health Reform and Innovation Fund for future healthcare costs
ü  $76 million as a reserve payment for the Virginia Retirement System
ü  2% salary increase for state employees, K-12 teachers and support personnel, college and university faculty , constitutional officers and state-supported local employees
ü  $17 million for Line of Duty Act
ü  $8.9 million for mental health
ü  $7.1 million for land conservation
ü  $7.4 million for pre-K funding
ü  $5.4 million for the cost of competing
ü  $3.2 million of “Hold Harmless” funding for schools
ü  $4.8 million for extended school year grants
ü  $5.1 million in unappropriated balance
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