General Assembly – Week 5 Update: Feb. 17, 2018
Submitted by Ellen Davenport, assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations, VCCS
Budget Recommendations To Be Revealed on February 18
The House Appropriations Committee will report out its budget recommendations on Sunday, February 18 at 1:00 p.m. The Senate Finance Committee’s recommendations are currently scheduled to be unveiled at 5:00 p.m. These will be general, broad recommendations; the detailed “half sheets” should be released by noon on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Summary reports should be available on the House Appropriations (http://hac.virginia.gov/) and Senate Finance (http://sfc.virginia.gov/) web sites after the meetings are held on Sunday.
Complicating factors in this year’s budget recommendations will be each house’s incorporation of savings and/or costs associated with Medicaid expansion. The present Senate Medicaid expansion vehicle is SB 915 (Dunnavant) and the House version, which contains a work requirement for certain eligible Medicaid participants, is HB 338 (Miyares). In addition, Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne’s analysis this week of January revenue collections and ramifications for the biennial budget included a caveat that although revenue collections to date are $400 million higher than projections, the General Assembly should not obligate those funds yet. Secretary Layne also indicated that a special session of the General Assembly could be in order in the fall to address the full implications of tax reform on Virginia and the Feb. 9 budget passed by Congress.
The House and Senate will vote on their respective budget recommendations on Feb. 22. The budgets will then cross over to the opposite house, be rejected, and then a conference committee will be named to reconcile the differences.
Ombudsman for Student Debt
HB 1138 (Price) and SB 394 (Howell) would both create a state ombudsman for student debt, to be housed in the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Because the legislation has an accompanying fiscal impact, the legislation is moving forward but its scope could change, depending on the funding that is approved (the Senate bill is “subject to appropriation”). The ombudsman’s office would be responsible for reviewing and attempting to resolve complaints from qualified education loan borrowers, compiling and analyzing the data on the complaints; assisting borrowers with understanding their rights and responsibilities, and analyzing and monitoring the development and implementation of applicable laws and policies. The Ombudsman’s Office would be further required to establish and maintain a qualified education loan borrower education course by December 1, 2019.
All non-budget bills had to “cross over” from their house of origin to the opposite house by this past Tuesday, Feb. 13. Please see the VCCS Bills List – Feb15 – post-crossover for a summary of all active legislation of interest to the VCCS.
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