The General Assembly adjourned from its regular session March 8 before agreeing on a two-year budget. As a result, Hanover supervisors are joining other localities by asking Virginia government officials and lawmakers to put Medicaid expansion aside for this session and “timely pass a clean budget.”
In Hanover, 30 percent of the county’s funding comes from the state, which pays for almost half of the education operating budget, according to the resolution the board of supervisors unanimously approved at its March 12 meeting.
“This does have an impact on us,” said Angela Kelly-Wiecek, Chickahominy supervisor and legislative committee chairwoman.
If a budget is not passed on time, localities will not have access to state funds that some counties, towns or cities have already accounted for in their own spending plans to fund vital local services.
For instance, state funds support the county’s social services, which would receive $1.4 million in Hanover’s proposed budget, a 3.6 percent increased from the previous year.
The county would also receive $2.2 million of state aid for the community services board.
Chairman Sean Davis invited Hanover’s newest representative in the House, Del. Buddy Fowler, to speak about the existing state budget situation at the March meeting.
Fowler apologized to the supervisors for the General Assembly’s failure to approve a budget.
“I think Medicaid is too expensive and too far important of an issue to be run through a budget without diligence and doing it the right way,” Fowler said.
Lawmakers are scheduled to be back at the Capitol March 24 for a special session. This type of session occurs only if the governor calls for one and it’s “deemed necessary or advisable.” Also, there has to be petitioning from two-thirds of the members of both houses in order for a special session to happen.
Local supervisors hope the General Assembly and Gov. Terry McAuliffe will agree on a budget before the deadline for localities to adopt their own spending plans. Under Virginia code, localities must adopt a budget and fix tax rates by July 1.
In addition to Hanover, a few nearby localities, including New Kent County and Colonial Heights, have approved a similar resolution.
Despite the budget currently being in limbo, Kelly-Wiecek said the board will not stray from the “Hanover way.”
“We will continue to plan and do what we need to do to ensure the continuation of services,” she said.