January 7, 2014
Lawmakers in Richmond are getting ready to hash out new laws and a budget. The General Assembly convenes Wednesday at noon, and this year they have a lot on their plate.
What's first on the list for legislators? Delegate David Toscano says the budget.
"We have to produce a two year budget during that period of time. How are we going to fund K-12 education, higher education, more money for mental health?"
Several hot button items this year stem from things that have happened in the past few months. University of Virginia Center for Politics Media Spokesman Geoffrey Skelley says that means mental health will be a focus.
"After the tragedy with [Senator] Creigh Deeds and his son, I think that’s going to be on the top of a lot of people’s minds and actually that might be a place where there will be a lot of bipartisan consensus on at least the need to do something."
Of course, Skelley says the Governor McDonnell scandal will also bring up the issues of ethics reform.
"Perhaps an area where we should see something done but we might not see very much done will be ethics reform. After the scandal with Governor McDonnell...he might be indicted in the long run over that. That's something where a lot of people expect there to be movement."
But how likely are they do anything it?
"They've set up a commission, kind of a blue ribbon panel thing but anytime anyone sets up anything you can describe as a blue ribbon panel you begin to think they might be pushing this by the wayside."
Toscano says Medicaid expansion is going to be a battle ground:
"The big battle this year will be around Medicaid expansion. Governor-elect McAuliffe has indicated he wants that. The Republicans in the House, despite the danger about not taking the federal money have said no way to we want to get near federal money to expand Medicaid."