Virginia Senate Adjourns, Vows to Fight for Marketplace Virginia

RICHMOND, VA – After 60 days, the Virginia Senate adjourned sine die. While the General Assembly considered and passed many laws this session, Senate Democrats remain disappointed that Republican Delegates refuse to consider or negotiate on “Marketplace Virginia,” the private insurance plan that would return billions of federal tax dollars to Virginia and help 400,000 Virginians get care.

Virginia lawmakers have been considering “Marketplace Virginia” for weeks as introduced by Republican Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan) and passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate. To date, no alternatives or considerations have been offered by House Republicans. This is despite repeated calls to consider and pass it from Republicans, Democrats, Chambers of Commerce and hospitals across Virginia.

As a result, the Senate was forced to adjourn without a budget. Senate Democrats vowed to keep up the dialogue about “Marketplace Virginia” until the Governor convenes a special session.

Senate Majority Leader Senator Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax) said, “We've done this numerous times. They've dug their heels in and said they basically don't care if the schools open or not because they don't want to pass Marketplace Virginia. Republican delegates don't want to grant health benefits to people who are poor but basically working full time, and here those same Republican delegates have a Cadillac health plan and they're part time.”

Democratic Caucus Chairman Senator Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) said, “Virginia can't afford to wait for 'Marketplace Virginia.' Hospitals are waiting right now for the General Assembly to accept these federal dollars to stay open. 30,000 new good paying jobs are on the table. But because of ideological differences, Republican Delegates refuse to budge and help close the coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians. We want to pass a budget, but this is too important to leave on the table. Republican delegates will now have time to hear from their constituents about how they should help provide health care for thousands of working Virginians.”

BACKGROUND:

The General Assembly has missed its budget deadline five times since 1998. In each case, the budget was more than a month late.

  • In 1998 and 2012, there was no budget until April. The final budgets were 41 and 39 days late.

  • In 2004, there was no budget until May. The final budget was 52 days late.

  • In 2006, there was no budget until mid-June. The final budget was more than 100 days late.

  • In 2001, there was no budget at all.

In years past, House Republicans weren’t so concerned about being on time. Budgets were late even when Republicans were in control of both chambers.

  • In 2006 and 2004 — the years in which the budget was latest — Republicans had full control of the legislature. They could have passed a budget at any time, yet in both cases, the process took months.

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