Political Tensions Between Republican Leaders Continue At State Capitol


Thursday, April 18th 2019, 6:41 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck


Lawmakers left early Thursday for the Easter holiday weekend, but insiders say tension remains high between Republican leaders. 

Budget discussions continue, News 9 was told, behind closed doors. But one of the biggest obstacles seems to be Republicans fighting with Republicans.

“It led to the Senate working for five to ten minutes Monday, because they wanted to punish the House for something that they did in reaction to something that the Senate did. It was just ridiculous,” said Representative Emily Virgin (D) House Minority Leader.

Republicans in the House and Senate are pushing for five-day school weeks, but the House tied $1,200 teacher raises to the bill, and that didn’t set well with Senate leaders.

“I think both issues should stand on their own merit,” said Senator Greg Treat President Pro Tempore.

“We see that as essentially holding the teacher pay raise hostage if we don’t get the five-day school weeks passed,” said Representative Virgin.

Meanwhile, discussion of Medicaid expansion continues, but doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Expanding Medicare could bring in 900 million federal dollars with a 100 million-dollar state investment.

“I would say the status is unchanged. There’s still a lot of dialog over it,” said Senator Treat.

That’s leading to discussion of a ballot initiative to let voters decide whether to expand Medicaid.

“It’s just silly that the people would have to take it into their own hands and go through the ballot initiative process. So, we would prefer that the legislature do its job,” said Representative Virgin.

“I don’t govern from a place of fear and I don’t change that position. If we make a policy decision it will be on the merits or lack thereof of that policy,” said Senator Treat.

But Democrats say all this Republican bickering is having an impact on how lawmakers govern.

“Just acting like children not being able to get along. It was silly and it was frustrating,” said Representative Virgin.

House Republican leaders were not available for comment. Democrats plan to release their own budget proposal in the next week or so. 

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