State Budget Stalemate Continues

April 16, 2014


By Erik Johnston

Senate passes its Budget but neither chamber opts to move competing proposals to conference

The House and Senate returned to Richmond last week with a flurry of activity, but both chambers adjourned on Tuesday, April 8, no closer to a resolution of the state budget impasse. The Senate voted to amend Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed biennial budget, SB 5003, by a vote of 22-15 on Tuesday, April 8. This followed the Senate Finance Committee’s decision to report out the amended budget by a vote of 11-3 on Monday, April 7. The House passed its budget, HB 5002, on March 25.

The House reconvened on Tuesday, April 8 and criticized the Senate for adjourning without amending and sending back over the House budget proposal.  House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones stated on the floor that procedurally the House has not and never will consider a Senate budget bill. He urged the Senate to amend the House Budget Bill (HB 5002) and send it back to the House so that the competing proposals could be conferenced. Senate leadership was also critical of the House for failing to take up the Senate proposal, SB 5003.  Both chambers adjourned with no schedule for returning to Richmond to settle the dispute.

The Senate and House remain at loggerheads over the issue of Medicaid expansion. The Senate proposal reinserted the Marketplace Virginia program, the privatized Medicaid expansion proposal adopted by the Senate during the regular session. The Governor proposed a two-year pilot expansion of Medicaid and the House already rejected both proposals earlier in the special session.

Overview of Senate Budget
The Senate amended SB 5003 to largely reflect SB 30 which was adopted by the Senate on February 20 and does include some of the Governor’s proposed amendments to the Budget.

Two major changes impacting counties are the Senate’s new proposals for the Line of Duty Act (LODA) and employee compensation. The Senate accepted Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to provide up to $17 million in FY 2106 to provide full or partial state subsidies to local governments for local employees covered under LODA, pending a review and recommendation from a workgroup lead by the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

The Senate also accepted the Governor’s proposal to provide a 2 percent salary increase starting on April 1, 2015, to state supported local employees, constitutional officers and teachers. Keep in mind that SB 5003 as introduced by the governor included a series of amendments built on former Governor McDonnell’s original introduced budget.

The Senate proposal amends SB 5003 to largely reflect SB 30 as adopted by the Senate on February 20, 2014. It includes the general fund costs and savings of the privatized option for Medicaid expansion, technical corrections, updates to resource estimates, updates based on fiscal impact for bills that passed during the session and the shifting of resources to implement new spending proposals such as salary increases. However, unlike HB 5002, which was adopted by the House during the special session, it does not include preliminary budget compromises between both chambers.

VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE

Click here to read highlights of proposed FY 2015-2016 Senate Budget.

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