With GOP control, General Assembly easily passes clean budget

It’s amazing what one vote in the Virginia Senate can do.

After nearly three months of impasse and zero movement, the Virginia Senate last night finally passed a biennal budget that funds the Commonwealth through 2016.  Passed on a 21-18 vote, with Democratic Senator Lynwood Lewis voting along with the entire GOP caucus, the budget does not include the Medicaid expansion demanded by Governor McAuliffe or the “Marketplace Virginia” compromise that had the support of three GOP Senators.

Wrangling over the budget lasted hours last night, with the Senate finally voting on the budget package after 11 PM.  It was quickly taken up by the House of Delegates and passed shortly before midnight. Prior to the vote on the Senate package, there was a brief interlude when the Senate amended the budget package to address concerns that language in the budget package from last year’s compromise on the Medicaid expansion could somehow give the Governor the ability to unilaterally expand Medicaid.  Speaker Bill Howell and Delegate Dave Albo have both confirmed that the language in question would not have done that, as the same language was included in the 2013 budget bill passed by the General Assembly, and there was additional language on the books barring the Governor from acting unilaterally.

After a failed attempt by Dick Black to amend the budget to deal with the issue – an amendment that would have been open to an easy line-item veto by the Governor – Senate Republicans, led by Bill Stanley, crafted a line-item veto proof pair of amendments that excised the disputed language.

In a what could have been called a display of political courage, Senator Lynwood Lewis crossed party lines and voted for the final budget package.  While it had been expected that senior Democratic Senator Chuck Colgan, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, would have also crossed over, he chose not to do so at the last moment.  We have since learned the Lewis claims he voted incorrectly.

The budget passed the House on a largely party line vote, 69-31. Delegate John Joannou crossed over to supply a single Democratic vote for the budget.

It now heads to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.


  • kelley

    when do you expect we can see the budget that is going to Gov McA

  • Stephen Spiker

    John Joannou also voted for it in the House, so it wasn’t a party line vote in either chamber.

  • Loudoun GOPer

    “After a failed attempt by Dick Black to amend the budget to deal with the issue – an amendment that would have been open to an easy line-item veto by the Governor – Senate Republicans, led by Bill Stanley, crafted a line-item veto proof pair of amendments that excised the disputed language.”

    Interesting spin on this, but the Black amendment and the Stanley amenment were practically word for word duplicates. The real scuttlebutt is that Hanger, Stosch, and Watkins were so livid about Dick Black shining the light on this issue and putting in the amendment to remove the loophole that would allow the MIRC or the Governor to expand medicaid on their own that they wouldn’t vote for anything with Black’s name on it. A duplicate amendment was crafted with Stanley’s name at the top and that got passed.

    The real thanks should go to Steve Albertson at the Bull Elephant for pointing out the problem, and to Senator Black for pushing it on the Senate floor last night. Now our budget is truly ‘clean.’

    • Stephen Spiker

      I don’t think it’s spin.

    • It’s not spin.

      I talked to a few Senators last night. Black’s amendment would simply have added his provision to the budget. The Governor has a line item veto, and could have vetoed that language and we couldn’t have overridden it.

      Stanley’s amendments did two things – first, they cut out the language that got Steve and others nervous (unnecessarily, in my opinion). Then they replaced it with language similar to Black’s. Thus, if the Governor were to line item veto the new language, the old language would still be gone and there would be no appropriated funds for the expansion. You can’t line item veto something that doesn’t have line items – you can cut things, but you can’t add things. Black’s amendment, if passed alone, would have allowed McAuliffe to veto them and we don’t have the votes for an override. Thankfully, Stanley is a better tactician.

      The real thanks go to Phil Puckett for resigning and making all this possible.

  • Downstater

    This has been a big week for Virginia. Forces true to the best interests of the state have beaten FastTerry at his own game, taken out a state senator in order to avoid a shutdown, passed a clean budget to keep the state running despite some last ditch maneuvers from opponents, and gotten rid of a major leader who
    had sold us out to Washington lobbyists and invading illegals.

  • Arlingtonvirginia


    Was the VA State Bar giving him an unbiased investigation when they invited him to speak on the issue they exonerated him of ethical misconduct on? Curious if the invitation to speak went out before the decision was made that had hadn’t violated ethical rules? I’m not more convinced than ever the decision in his favor was politically motivated.

    To any liberals on here, would you want a republican to violate ethical rules then be given a pass by the state bar? Way to make the legal profession a pathetic, political joke. Shame on anyone at the state bar for sanctioning or disbarring private lawyers for doing far less bad things.


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