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April 29, 2014

Red Herring

Across the state, cities and counties are successfully developing and adopting their yearly budgets for schools and other essential services. This isn’t surprising, yet it directly contradicts claims by opponents of closing the health care coverage gap that without a state budget in hand, localities can’t adopt local budgets. Turns out, that’s not the case.

In fact, cities and counties representing 39 percent of the state’s population have already passed their budgets. That includes some of the largest localities like Arlington, Chesterfield, and Henrico and also much smaller ones like Clarke County. Many others are moving toward passing their budgets in the coming days and weeks.

Localities have been able to move forward while the legislature continues to work on the state budget because Virginia law allows localities to amend their budgets as needed. So whenever the General Assembly reaches a compromise on the budget, localities can make adjustments.

But opponents keep claiming that the budget stalemate in Richmond “will start endangering” localities’ budgets. Ironically, some of the most prominent voices in the General Assembly making this claim hail from the very localities that have already passed budgets.

If opponents of closing the coverage gap are genuinely worried about their localities, they should find a compromise that helps localities. Adopting a state budget that closes the coverage gap would do just that.

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst


The Commonwealth Institute

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