Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe celebrates first 100 days in office
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe celebrated his first 100 days in office Monday by highlighting his work to improve the state's economy and by renewing his call to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income residents.
The Democratic governor gathered state agency heads at the Library of Virginia to talk about improvements in transportation, health care, education and other areas since he took office in January.
"Since my first day in office, I, along with members of my administration, have worked hard to find mainstream common-sense solutions that will create a stronger and more economically competitive commonwealth," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said much of his time was spent trying to convince business owners to move their companies to Virginia or increase their operations here.
He said has met with ambassadors or officials from Canada, Japan, Vietnam, Britain, Qatar and South Korea to discuss economic development opportunities and signed a new trade agreement with France.
"This is what I believe the voters elected me to do: to focus on job creation and diverse our economy," McAuliffe said.
The governor said his administration has helped create more than 5,000 jobs since coming into office.
A database of job announcements maintained by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership shows that 5,355 new jobs have been announced since January. In that same period, data shows nearly 1,600 jobs have been lost.
McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy McAuliffe, received standing ovations from an enthusiastic crowd of state employees Monday. The administration printed and handed out glossy booklets listing the administration's accomplishments.
The governor's spokesman, Brian Coy, acknowledged that many of the accomplishments mentioned by the governor or in the booklet had been set in motion before McAuliffe was sworn in. But Coy said Monday's event was also meant to thank state employees and to highlight their work.
Many Republican state lawmakers have been sharply critical of the governor's early tenure, accusing him of being more interested in political gamesmanship than governing.
GOP lawmakers oppose the governor's plan to expand Medicaid eligibility to as many as 400,000 low income residents, which McAuliffe reiterated his support for Monday.
"Let us redouble our efforts on behalf of those 400,000 Virginians who are counting on us," McAuliffe said.
Expanding Medicaid coverage is a key element of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment.
The current fight in Virginia has led to a stalemate on passage of a proposed $96 billion two-year state budget, with both sides accusing the other of refusing to negotiate.
State agencies could run out of money if no budget is passed by July 1.
Matthew Moran, a spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell, said the McAuliffe's most significant action to date has been creating the stalemate.
"He's put Obamacare ahead of Virginia," said Moran.