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Governor Northam passes state budget, medicaid expansion

(Photo courtesy of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association)

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Ralph Northam has signed two bills that fund the state government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 and all of Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020.

The budget Governor Northam signed increases health care access for up to 400,000 Virginians by expanding Medicaid and makes significant investments in core economic priorities like education, workforce training, mental health services, and pay raises for teachers as well as state and state-supported local employees, including law enforcement professionals.

Governor Northam signed the two budget bills without amendment or veto.

"Today is a great day for Virginia," said Governor Ralph Northam. "The budget bills I am signing today will make life better for people in every corner of our great Commonwealth by investing in the fundamentals of a healthy economy like education, workforce development, public safety, and better pay for men and women who devote their lives to serving the public."

Northam thanked the legislators who voted for a budget that expands Medicaid coverage to nearly 400,000 Virginians, as well as the activists, advocates and Virginia residents who fought for expanded health coverage for many years.

"As a doctor and a public servant, I believe making sure all Virginians have the access to the care they need to be healthy and productive is both a moral and economic imperative," Northam said. "This budget will empower nearly 400,000 Virginians with access to health insurance by expanding Medicaid, without crowding out other general fund spending priorities."

The budget legislation signed today:

  • Increases deposits to the Rainy Day Fund and the new Revenue Reserve Fund, bringing the total deposits to nearly $1.0 billion by the end of the biennium.
  • Adds $189 million in new general fund resources for behavioral health and developmental services, including $84.1 million for community mental health services and $67 million to expand services for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Includes more than $530 million in general funds for K-12 education, and $131 million for a three percent pay raise for state-supported teachers and support staff, effective July 1, 2019.
  • Includes $87 million for a two percent pay raise for state and state-supported local employees, and another $38 million for a two percent merit raise for state workers with at least three years of service. The budget also provides $49 million for targeted pay raises for direct care staff at our state behavioral health facilities; corrections officers at our Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice facilities; and marine police and deputy sheriffs.
  • Adds $350 million to advance planning and engineering requirements and to fund capital projects to widen and dredge the Norfolk Harbor Channel and Elizabeth River.

A tally from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows Virginia will become the 33rd state to approve Medicaid expansion.

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