Posted on Friday, March 2, 2018

General Assembly Round Up: Week 8 – Mar. 2, 2018

Submitted by Ellen Davenport, assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations, VCCS

Budget Goes to Conference

Conferees on the “caboose” budget bill and the biennial budget bill were named this week. Senators Saslaw, Howell, Norment, Hanger, Wagner, Ruff and Newman were named Senate conferees; all have been conferees in previous years. House budget conferees this year are Delegates Jones, Peace, Knight, Garrett, Torian, and Sickles. Delegate Jones chairs the Appropriations Committee and Delegate Torian has been a budget conferee previously. The four other House budget conferees are new to the process.

The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die on Saturday, March 10. The budget conferees always plan to have agreement by the Tuesday of the last week of the session, or March 6 this year, and for the budget to be presented on the Thursday of the last week of the session (March 8). Reconciling the “chasm” of differences between the two sides on the issue of Medicaid expansion alone is rumored to push the 2018 session into overtime, however.  The “word on the street” includes scenarios including General Assembly members going home on March 10 and returning on March 19, members coming back during the week of the scheduled reconvened or “veto” session the week of April 16, or returning in June. 

The House budget is predicated on the expansion of Medicaid, with the requirement that all Medicaid recipients seek training, education, employment, or other community engagement opportunities leading to self-sufficiency. However, HB 338 (Miyares), the House bill for Medicaid expansion which called for collaboration with the Virginia Workforce Centers or One-Stops, was carried over yesterday to be addressed again in 2019.

A priority item in the budget for the VCCS is funding and direction for the Workforce Credential Grants/Fast Forward program. Both the Senate and House budgets retain the additional $2 million in each year of the biennium that was contained in Governor Terry McAuliffe’s introduced budget, bringing the total amounts to $9.5 million in each year. The Senate budget also includes an additional $1 million in HB 29/SB 29. Business organizations including the Northern Virginia Chamber, the Virginia Construction Contractors Association, the Virginia Manufacturers Association, the Virginia Ship Repair Association, the Virginia Trucking Association, and several electric cooperatives have engaged in the push for additional funding. The House’s budget contains language that would link credentials delivered with the industry clusters identified by the regional GO Virginia councils, and for SCHEV to submit guidelines to the statewide Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board for input before any WCG grant funds are allocated to community colleges and higher education centers. The VCCS is not in favor of this approach, as implementation of the language would slow down the current success of the program and would be detrimental to the businesses that have hired newly trained workers in critical jobs needed right now, and businesses with documented, in-demand jobs going unfilled.    

Bill List

Most of the bills have either been killed, carried over, or have passed at this point during the session.  See the VCCS Bills List – Mar. 1 2018 – Post crossover for details.'

Laura Osberger

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