There was a sense of celebration Thursday at the Capitol in Richmond as the Governor signed a new two-year budget that includes Medicaid expansion.
In front of a crowd, on the steps of the state capitol, Governor Ralph Northam signed the budget bills. Standing behind him were the lawmakers who made it possible: A slew of freshman Democrats elected in November and one of the handful of Republicans who flipped their votes.
“I particularly want to thank Speaker Kirk Cox, Chairman Emmett Hanger and Chairman Chris Jones,” Northam said as a crowd applauded.
For years, Senator Hanger has been the lone Republican voice in favor of Medicaid expansion. This year, along with Republican leadership in the House, he crafted a compromise bill that was able to get just enough to support to pass.
“It’s very gratifying," Hanger told reporters afterward. "I guess I’ve been somewhat high profile now in terms of trying to make this happen, but a lot of people worked on it and it truly became a bipartisan effort.”
Hanger says that’s the way it should be, and he hopes lawmakers north of the Potomac take note.
Northam echoed a theme he often relied on during the campaign for expansion. "As a doctor, and a public servant, I believe making sure all Virginians have the access to the care they need to be healthy and productive is a moral and economic imperative."
The budget also includes raises for teachers and state employees and increased funding for education.