- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has made final changes to the budget state lawmakers approved earlier this year, upsetting Republicans with a pro-labor tweak and push to expand Medicaid.

McAuliffe vetoed a section of the budget Friday that the General Assembly passed related to public-private transportation projects. The Democratic governor said the bill as written “could preclude” unionized construction contractors from taking part in public-private transportation projects, which are frequently used in Virginia.

“My veto will remove this new restrictive language since it is likely to limit the number of companies willing to participate in transportation projects,” McAuliffe said.

Republicans said the vetoed language only sought to make sure that non-unionized companies weren’t unfairly excluded from those types of projects.

“It is disappointing that Governor McAuliffe would use the budget to curry favor with big union bosses,” said Republican House Speaker William J. Howell.

McAuliffe also vetoed budget language aimed at prohibiting him from expanding Medicaid. He vetoed the same language in last year’s budget, but Republicans said it was an unconstitutional move and Keeper of the Rolls G. Paul Nardo, who is also the clerk of the House, did not include it in the final official printed version.

Howell indicated this year’s veto will see a similar fate.

McAuliffe and Republicans have been at odds over Medicaid expansion since the governor took office in 2014. He’s tried repeatedly to persuade Republicans to accept federal funding to expand the publicly funded health care program for the poor to about 400,000 more Virginians. Republicans said such a large expansion of a safety net program is not sustainable in the long run.

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