A Budget Deal?

May 22, 2018

There is reporting this morning that a Budget Deal may have been reached between Delegate Chris Jones, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Senate Emmett Hanger, Co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.  To bring you up to date:
  • The Legislature adjourned in March without an agreed upon Budget to send to the Governor;
  • The principal sticking point being whether or not to expand Medicaid for some 300,000 Virginians whose income falls below 138% of Federal Poverty
  • When they reconvened, the House got quickly to work and amended the resubmitted base budget to look like the package they had passed during the regular Session (it is now HB5002, for those keeping score);
  • The Senate went home to think, but Senator Hanger, who had supported expansion last year, kept trying to negotiate an agreement and a package he could support;
  • The met on May 15th and 16th with no particular success.
It appears that Senator Hanger and Delegate Jones have reached agreement, the current roadblock may be that there are not enough votes to get the amendments to HB5002 out of Committee, though it seems fairly certain there are enough votes to pass them on the Senate floor.  The other Co-chair of Senate Finance, and Senate Majority Leader, Tommy Norment, continues to be fairly adamantly and fundamentally  opposed. It appears that the Senate recommendations would add additional funding for teachers, state employee wages, behavioral heath initiatives and DD Waiver slots.  The DD Waiver slot proposed changes in the biennium from the introduced budget (and from HB5002) are listed below:
  • Proposed CL slots reduced from 750 to 384
  • The CL slot numbers include slots designate for facility transfers which are proposed to increase from 70 to 95
  • There does not appear to be any change in the 50 additional slots in the CL Waiver to be held in reserve for inter-Waiver transfers or emergencies
  • Proposed FIS slots increased for 75 to 895 with an additional 326 in FY20 to address the Priority 1 Wait List
  • Proposed BI slots from 0 in the biennium to 40 in FY20
  • In sum the latest proposal has 820 more slots.
While slots (as well as additional community behavioral health funding) are always a necessity and welcome,  we are again sliding into the pit where capacity can not keep up with aspirations for services/supports. A total of more than 2,000 slots, and significant additions to community behavioral health is both welcome and terrifying! Stay tuned!