RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — -

An anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform is applauding House Speaker William J. Howell for his opposition to Medicaid expansion.

The praise comes a year after the group advocated for new leadership in the House of Delegates.

Americans for Tax Reform sent Howell a letter last Wednesday applauding his leadership and commitment to opposing expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Last year the group criticized Howell for supporting then-Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation spending plan, which increased the state sales tax rate.

Paul Blair, Americans for Tax Reform's state affairs manager, said Howell deserves credit for opposing Democratic-led efforts to include Medicaid expansion in the state's budget.

The current impasse over Medicaid expansion could lead to a state government shutdown if no budget is passed by July 1.