05 June 2009

Armed with Line-Item Veto, Manchin Takes Up Budget

Gov. Joe Manchin has until Friday to sign off on the $11.5 billion budget bill passed earlier this week by the Legislature, The Associated Press reports.

But given his power to veto or reduce individual spending lines, AP also reports that some lawmakers fear that Manchin plans to cut "$3.2 million or so in health spending."

(Update: Manchin vetoed $7 million from the budget, including $2 million of the health care related spending cited by legislators, AP reports. But Manchin also says he plans to propose $1.6 million in one-time appropriation measures to offset those cuts.)

"The money ranges from $2,500 for the state Women's Commission to $1.5 million for teaching hospitals, and includes bumps in funding for domestic violence legal services, free clinics and other programs," AP explains.

But Manchin objects to the funding source: a $237 million Medicaid funding reserve that legislative leaders say they didn't know existed until work on the final budget began last month.

The reserve is projected to reach $374 million by 2011, but administration officials believe they will need all of it to ensure sufficient Medicaid funding in subsequent years.

"Manchin said his staffers are trying to see if some of the additional spending can be done with supplemental appropriations rather than the surplus," the article said.

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