Committee will craft state budget compromise

A legislative conference committee soon will begin deliberations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the state budget, which would take effect July 1.

“We are cautiously optimistic that a solid, fiscally prudent budget will emerge from conference and be voted into law within the next few weeks,” House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said Tuesday.

A number of sticking points could delay any agreement. They include road tolls in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, different provisions on Medicaid eligibility and the shuffling of money between education and transportation. The Republican-heavy conference committee could mean that a budget looking more like the House version will come out of the deliberations.

“With various localities and agencies waiting for final adoption of the budget, I hope that the conferees will produce a balanced conference report for final passage in short order,” Howell said.

Senate Democrats were able to use the evenly divided chamber to their advantage for the first time.

As lieutenant governor, Republican Bill Bolling has been able to cast tie-breaking votes on legislation, essentially giving Republicans an unofficial majority in the chamber. However, he cannot cast the deciding vote on matters pertaining to the budget.

Democrats pushed the advantage to force a budget more to their liking. It kept more money in education and pushed back tolls in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, according to Delegate Mark Sickles, D-Franconia.

“What the Senate has done is exactly what House Democrats were fighting for during each round of the budget process,” Sickles said.

A sizable Republican majority in the House blocked passage of the Senate version of the budget, setting the stage for joint budget conference meetings. A panel of senators and delegates will compare the two budgets, see where they don’t match up and try to hammer out a compromise. The result would go to both the House and Senate for final approval.

The budget conference committee consists of six representatives from each chamber. The panel has eight Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights; three Democrats; and one independent, Delegate Lacey Putney of Bedford. Putney chairs the House Appropriations Committee.
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Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Restaurant Watch


Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

 

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The Bad to the Bone Blues Bash returns to the Henrico Theatre from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with three new bands. Headlining the event is the acclaimed Forrest McDonald Band, winners of the 2015 and 2016 River City Blues Society International Blues Challenge. McDonald has released a dozen albums and has recorded with music giants such as Bob Seger, Bobby Womack, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Perry and Ray Charles. Also performing are Andrew Alli and the Mainline and the Urban-Hill Band, lead by blues guitarists and vocalists Paul Urban and Lathan “Pudgee” Hill. Tickets are $15 to $17 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and younger. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. For details, call 678-438-9879 or visit https://bluesbash2.eventbrite.com. Full text

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