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.
The grand opening of The Rink outdoor ice skating rink at West Broad Village will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, beginning at 11 a.m. with skating and family activities. At 4 p.m., grand opening festivities – featuring exhibitions of ice sculpting, ice skating and cheering, as well as fire pits, costumed characters, and food vendors – will begin. Skating costs are $8 for children and $10 for adults, with $4 skate rentals available. Parking is free. The Rink is located at 3939 Duckling Drive, Glen Allen. For details, visit http://www.Facebook.com/TheRinkWBV > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 11/09/2015
Looking for a Virginia-grown Christmas tree this year? You can find a list of all locations that offer trees in the 2015 Virginia Grown Christmas Tree Guide, published by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) in cooperation with the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association. The guide is designed as a resource for finding choose-and-cut, fresh-cut and live Christmas trees across the state. Complimentary copies are available through tourist information centers, libraries and Virginia Cooperative Extension offices.
“Most choose-and-cut tree farms and retail lots open the Friday after Thanksgiving,” said VDACS Commissioner Sandra J. Adams. > Read more.
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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Nov. 19, 2015Click here to read the print edition.
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