Thursday, March 8, 2018

Over Time, Extra Innings...Name Your Sports Analogy, the Session Goes On

This 60 day session of the General Assembly will not end on Saturday. The money committees have announced that they have not reached agreement on the budget, and we must have a budget. Today the House and Senate are working on a plan on how to add time to session. 

Interestingly, there are two ways to do this. They can simply extend the session by a certain number of days to give them time to work out the budget and then vote on it. The other option is to adjourn, but not sine die, and ask the Governor to order a reconvened session. There are all sorts of nuances to both, but one of the issues is that they can't raise money while they are in session. So for some legislators who might be facing either a primary challenge or a tough race in 2019, they would like to build their reserves, and they prefer a reconvened session. Others want to stick it out until they finish, so extend the session. 

We should know by the morning what they decide to do, but there are rumors that the budget impasse is so bad, they might not be able to reach an agreement until April. That would make extending session suddenly seems ridiculous. 

As you all know, school divisions all over the Commonwealth are in budget development for the 2018-19 school year. Without knowing what the state appropriations to each division will be, this is tough work. School divisions will be left making best guesses over the next few weeks if the General Assembly can't figure this out. The two budgets are $169 million apart in funding for K-12, so there are very large implications to local budgets. I wouldn't be surprised to see some local school divisions have two different budgets ready to go depending on the outcome here in Richmond. Legislators take his very seriously and they know how much a delay in a budget impacts their constituents. 

So what can you do? Call the Senate budget conferees and let them know you want them to expand Medicaid and INVEST in Virginia. Here are the Senate budget conferees and their contact information: 
  • Senator Tommy Norment    (804) 698-7503
  • Senator Emmett Hanger      (804) 698-7525
  • Senator Janet Howell          (804) 698-7551
  • Senator Dick Saslaw           (804) 698-7535
  • Senator Frank Wagner        (804) 698-7507
  • Senator Frank Ruff             (804) 698-7515
You can also email them using our cyber lobbyist alert. Click here to email the conferees. 

More information on the Fat Lady and her song tomorrow. For now, I think she has plenty of time to rest her vocal chords.