Va. Senate passes budget with "Marketplace" option

4/8/2014, 4:34 p.m.

The Democratic majority Virginia Senate passed a budget containing Marketplace Virginia, the compromise “private option” designed to close the health care coverage gap and enable up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians to access care. The budget passed on a vote of 22 –15, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in support.

“Using the framework of Gov. [Terry] McDonnell’s proposed budget, with amendments from Gov. McAuliffe and the Senate, we have sent a bipartisan budget bill to the House — a budget bill that contains a 2 percent raise for public employees and school teachers, and addresses Line of Duty for our first responders," said Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax).

"It provides a pathway for accessing health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and takes them out of our emergency rooms. House Republicans owe Virginia more than ‘Just Say No.’ ”

The bill is not expected to pass in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates.

"House Republicans need to stop playing political games, come to the table, and help us move Virginia forward by passing the Senate budget," said Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico).

The Senate budget retains several important amendments from the McAuliffe budget that the House summarily rejected, including a 2 percent pay raise for public employees; up to $17 million in subsidies to localities for Line of Duty Act-covered employees; and up to $7.1 million in new funding for land conservation efforts. As compared to the previous Senate budget, the new budget contains an extra $52 million in direct aid to public education.