The General Assembly returned to Richmond on April 3 for our 2019 reconvened session to consider gubernatorial vetoes and amendments. The governor has 30 days from the adjournment of the regular session to sign, veto, or offer amendments to legislation. The authority of Virginia’s governor to amend legislation is atypical compared to the president and many other governors. This power provides an opportunity to impact policy in a significant way. [Read more…]
Only one week remains of the 2019 Session the General Assembly. Bills are being heard and meeting their fates at an ever quicker pace. Multiple meetings are scheduled at the same time. Legislators, staff, interested citizens, and lobbyists are all running around trying to protect their turf or see that their interests are being met.
This past week, any legislation dealing with revenues had to be considered by both houses and put into conference if the two chambers had any disagreement over the language of the bills. Conference committees generally are made up of three senators and three delegates. The most significant conference committee appointed every year is on the budget. Seven members of each chamber achieve that coveted assignment. Unlike past years, broad agreement exists already on key elements of the budget. Over $900 million of the surplus will be returned to citizens over the biennium through larger tax returns and in a one-time payment later this year.
Even with the rebates, this budget invests considerable new money into a number of priorities. The budget will include a 5% pay increase for teachers and significant expenditures on mental health services. The full funding of the earned income tax credit, as the Governor proposed, is no longer under consideration. That proposal would have helped those who struggle the most financially. [Read more…]
The 2019 legislative session is just around the corner, which is hard to believe since it feels like the 2018 Session just ended. In fact, the General Assembly has yet to adjourn the special session. A couple of issues remain unresolved.
The Governor initially called for a special session because the General Assembly did not reach a budget agreement. After months of wrangling, the legislature adopted a budget on May 30 that included Medicaid expansion. It was a huge bipartisan accomplishment. Nevertheless, the Senate and House of Delegates did not adjourn sine die because the party in the majority has not agreed on the selection of certain judges. Periodically I’ve heard rumors that the General Assembly will be called back to Richmond for a vote, but those rumors have thus far proven to be untrue. In the meantime, another critical issue has arisen. [Read more…]
With the legislature wrapping up the 2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly in a day or so, I wanted to provide a status report.
The budget deal has been reported in most of the major newspapers. It includes a three percent pay raise for state employees and faculty at our institutions of higher learning, as well as a two percent raise for teachers and other state-supported local employees. The budget deal also includes about $190 million to bulk up the Virginia Retirement System. You will recall that contributions were reduced during the recession. This action will allow us to restore those funds about six years ahead of time. The increases in teacher pay are a part of a $900 million increase in K-12 spending by the state. [Read more…]
One of the most important responsibilities of the General Assembly is the election of judges. After all, judges represent the Commonwealth and the whole notion of justice in the court and the community. People need to know that they are going to have an equal shot at justice in every court. I came down here this year with a couple of priorities with respect to judges. [Read more…]