RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – In one week, lawmakers will be back at the Virginia State Capitol to continue working on a two-year budget.
The Senate will have a special session for the spending plan Monday, May 14.
It’s been nearly two months since the General Assembly wrapped up its regular session without coming to an agreement on the budget.
What to do about Medicaid expansion has been at the center of the hold up.
The Republican-controlled House included expansion in its budget proposal. The Republican-controlled Senate did not.
When they reconvened in April, the House sent a budget to the Senate which, again, included expansion.
Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) said the upcoming session will be brief.
Senators will meet next Monday to refer the House budget to the Senate Committee on Finance.
Then, that committee will meet. Senators expect to receive an update on revenues from Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne. Committee members will then get an overview of the House bills from Senate Finance staff.
The following day, the committee will meet again to begin constructing its own version of the 2018-2020 biennial budget.
Many lawmakers hoped to have the budget finalized before they adjourned in March.
Two months later, there is still finger pointing as to who’s to blame for the delay.
“I’m disappointed it’s taking this long to do something that could have been done nearly a month earlier,” House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) has said. “The House sent a budget to the Senate on April 17 and the Senate had an opportunity to act when we were here for the reconvened session.”
Cox said they need to get it done “sooner rather than later.”
“Local governments, school boards, and national bond rating agencies are expecting us to act, and there’s no reason for delay,” he said.
But Norment, who is co-chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said the delay wouldn’t exist had all sides constructed a budget based on existing revenue streams.
“Had Governor Northam and the House not based their budget proposals upon federal revenues the General Assembly has yet to accept and a new tax on hospitals it has yet to enact, Virginia would have a new budget today,” Norment said in a statement.
Norment said the Senate is still ‘adjusting’ to the reversal of a minority of House Republicans.
“The responsibility for this impasse lies exclusively with those who are imposing a tax without legislation and signing on to a program the current federal administration has targeted for elimination,” he went on to say.
The May 14 special session begins at noon.
Lawmakers have until June 30 to sign off on a budget before they force a state government shutdown.