Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014

House and Senate Budgets Pass Their Houses of Origin and Are Referred to Committee in the Opposite House

Yesterday, the House of Delegates and Senate each passed their respective budgets. The House and Senate budget overviews were released on February 16, and details became available mid-day on February 18.  The budgets have crossed over to the opposite house, where the House budget has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate budget has been assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.

The budgets typically are then conformed to the budget of the body where they are now referred (i.e., the House budget is conformed to the Senate budget in the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate budget is conformed to the House budget in the House Appropriations Committee), they are heard on both the House and Senate floors, cross back to the originating body, are rejected, and then a committee of conference is formed. House budget conferees are Delegates Cox, Jones, Landes, Joannou, O’Bannon, and Greason.  Senate budget conferees should be named any day now;  2013 conferees were Senators Stosch, Colgan, Howell, Norment, Hanger, and Watkins. It is likely that Senator Richard Saslaw will be a 2014 conferee, and some reports indicate that there may be different conferees on SB 29/HB 29 (the “caboose” bill) compared to SB 30/HB 30

The major difference between the House and Senate centers around the expansion of Medicaid; the budget which passed the Senate yesterday directs the McAuliffe administration to develop a program to allow up to 250,000 uninsured Virginians to purchase private health insurance that is subsidized by federal dollars designated for Medicaid expansion. The House budget contains only inflation adjustments for Medicaid payments to hospitals and no provision for Medicaid expansion.

Both the House and Senate budgets are favorable for the Virginia Community College System. Both budgets retain the new funding for the VCCS that was recommended in the  budget introduced by former Governor Bob McDonnell as well as increases in employee compensation.

The House budget directs additional funding to more full-time faculty. The Senate budget maintains designated funding for the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative at $1 million for the biennium.  The Senate budget also contains the new Community College Workforce Incentive Fund at $1 million per year , tied to the passage of SB 628 (Ruff), and additional funding to support SB 429 (Hanger) to convert two-year transfer grants to pay the difference between community college tuition and the average four-year public tuition.

State Board Bill Advances

HB 356 (Cox) was unanimously reported from the Senate Education and Health Committee on February 20, and received a 40-0 unanimous vote on first reading on the Senate floor today.  This legislation contains technical amendments relating to the election of the Vice-Chairman of the State Board and aligns the Code of Virginia with the State Board’s policy manual with respect to stipulating that a quorum is  eight, and not seven, members of the 15-member board.  HB 356 will also allow the main office of the State Board to remain in the City of Richmond or locate elsewhere in the Commonwealth.'

Ellen Davenport

Ellen Davenport is assistant vice chancellor for governmental relations for the VCCS. She works with the Chancellor and Virginia's 23 community college presidents to advance the financial and policy priorities of the VCCS with the Virginia General Assembly and Congress.

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