The Virginia General Assembly, now completely under Republican control, late Thursday passed a budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1 but that budget is not yet law.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, unhappy with amendments that put a halt to his plans to expand Mediciad through options under Obamacare, could veto the entire budget or attempt a line-item action that strips out the amendments that block his Medicaid attempts for at least the next two years.
Whether of not he can use line-item veto power in such a way may or may not be legal but if he chooses to veto the entire budget, Virginia is left with no budget as the end of the current fiscal year approaches.
McAuliffe said Friday he is “considering his options.” He will have seven days after he formally receives the budget to make a decision, it is not expected to hit his desk until early next week and both Democrats and Republicans are holding their breath until he decides what to do.
Any attempt to override a veto faces uncertainty because Republicans do not have enough votes in the Senate for a two-thirds majority required for overrides.
Several Virginia Democrats tell us privately that they are urging McAuliffe to let the budget become law without vetoes and wait until a better day to continue the fight over Medicaid.
But less than six months into his term McAulifee has shown a willingness to use his veto power. His veto of a bill on “freedom of religious expression” in schools is still drawing fire from Virginia’s rabid right.
Meanwhile, local governments and school districts hold their breath because the prolonged budget debate and fight between a Democratic governor and the GOP General Assembly leaves funding levels in doubt.