The most important thing we do in the General Assembly is pass a budget.
I wanted to share with you personally why I voted against this budget. The House budget includes a plan to expand Medicaid, albeit with some conservative reform elements. I respect my colleagues who are supporting this plan, there are good conservatives on both sides of this plan, but I respectfully disagree.
I remain concerned about the long-term fiscal implications of Medicaid expansion.
I am against the plan because our current Medicaid system still needs reform, because it is hard to trust the Federal Government when they promise “free” federal money, and because of the significant deficits facing other states.
Virginia’s current Medicaid program is growing by over $600 million in the current biennial budget. This is an unsustainable growth rate. We cannot afford our current program, let alone the cost of expansion. The experience of other states shows that it will damage our budget. In states that have expanded, enrollment and per enrollee spending are nearly 50% higher than predicted.
As we saw with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), “free” and “guaranteed” money from Washington is not always free nor guaranteed. Even a highly popular program like CHIP can lose its funding.
While I applaud the work of our Appropriations Committee on areas such as teacher pay raises and prudent investments in the reserve fund, I cannot support the proposal to expand Medicaid. I hope when the budget arrives in conference, changes are made so that I can support the budget for final passage.
In just over two weeks, we will return to the Capitol to work on the state budget.
As of last Wednesday, the House Clerk’s Office has enrolled 877 bills for the signatures of the presiding officers, the Speaker for the House and Lt. Governor for the Senate.
So far, we have communicated 810 bills to the Governor’s Office for his review and the Governor has acted on 394 bills.
The Governor’s deadline to recommend amendments or veto legislation is Monday, April 9, 2018. The Governor has a 30-day window to act on bills sent to him after the Regular Session of the General Assembly has concluded.
It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office. I will be spending the coming weeks meeting and visiting with various groups, businesses and constituents giving updates on the 2018 session. You can email me at [email protected] or call me at (434)821-5929. You can also join the conversation on our social media page www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.