The Virginia General Assembly has reached the half-way point of Session known as crossover. After Tuesday, February 7th, all Senate bills will move to the House and all House bills will move to the Senate. Over the last weeks of Session, I will be presenting my legislation before House committees as they move through the legislative process. Once a bill passes the House and the Senate, the bill then goes to the Governor to sign or veto.
In addition to crossover, this week marked the announcement of the House and Senate budgets presented by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. One of the most important functions of the General Assembly is to pass a conservative and fiscally responsible budget for the Commonwealth.
In normal circumstances, Virginia’s two-year budget is crafted in even years. However, the Commonwealth experienced a sharp revenue shortfall during 2016 regardless of the Governor’s projections used to make the budget. When this occurs, we must revise and amend the budget during odd-year Sessions due our constitutional requirement to pass a balanced budget.
I am very proud of the work done by the Senate Finance Committee proposing a fiscally conservative budget that focuses on the core functions of government. One of the main portions of the budget separate from the spending cuts is the emphasis to restore pay raises to our valuable state employees. In addition to the 3% raise for state employees, much needed compression pay for our Sheriff’s Departments and a 2% raise for state supported local employees like constitutional offices and teachers is included in the Senate proposed budget.
In the past year, we have heard a lot about the revenue losses our school systems are experiencing due to a loss in enrollment and the decline in local revenue caused by the losses in the coal industry. After the Coal Equity Summit and the meeting earlier this year with leadership, it is exciting to see much needed enrollment loss funding included in the budget for our school systems. Our school systems were in dire needs of additional funding and I am glad we were able to deliver.
The House and Senate will now begin working to unify the budget proposals and work out the differences. By the end of the Session, the House and Senate will pass a balanced budget for the Commonwealth. I will make sure to keep you updated on the changes in the budget and how my legislation progresses in the House.
Thank you for your continued support. It is an honor to represent Southwest Virginia in the General Assembly. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and comments during session. You can contact my office by phone at 276-889-1044 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be on the lookout for my weekly General Assembly Session update in your local paper and on my Facebook page.
The 38th Senatorial District includes all of Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Pulaski, Russell, and Tazewell Counties, the Cities of Norton and Radford, and portions of Montgomery, Smyth, and Wise Counties.