This past week, the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate each approved its own version of the Commonwealth’s next biennial operating budget. On Sunday, the House Appropriations Committee reported its amended budget unanimously. After lengthy debate, the budget was passed by the full House on Thursday evening by a vote of 74-25. The Senate budget also reported unanimously on Sunday and passed 31-9 on Thursday.
Thanks to sound Democratic fiscal leadership over the last two years, we are now in the position to make generational investments in core services as well as offering targeted tax relief to the Virginians who were most impacted by the pandemic. While I don’t agree with everything that was included in the House budget, as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, I was pleased to take part in formulating this funding package and to secure key wins for Prince William County.
Over the next week, each chamber will review the distinct budget proposal approved by the other body. Generally, both the House and Senate vote to conform the other’s budget to their own and then to reject the other’s attempt to do so. This technical procedure has the effect of sending the budget into a “committee of conference,” wherein Democratic and Republican representatives from the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee will hash out their differences.
The final version of the budget – ideally, one that the majority of both chambers of the General Assembly can agree to – should be reported and voted on before the 2022 Session ends on March 12th.
You can view every version of the state budget, as well as every budget amendment that has been submitted, at budget.lis.virginia.gov.
My Budget Amendments
Four amendments that I submitted were included in the House budget:
- Item 123#2h establishes a workgroup in the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to evaluate and suggest more meaningful performance metrics for Virginia’s Small Women and Minority (SWaM) business program. This effort was a suggestion of the Virginia Minority Business Commission, which I chair, and has been evaluated by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).
- Item 347#3h sends $500,000 in each year of the biennium to Northern Virginia Family Services to to deploy a neighborhood-based, mobile service delivery and outreach program. This replicable model will address the immediate and long-term recovery needs of those who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The funds will support a mobile service delivery and outreach van, a trauma-informed Community Outreach Team, efforts to connect community members to financial well-being resources, community mini-grants, and direct assistance.
- Item 375#4h directs the Department of Conservation and Recreation to review properties around the historic Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail for potential incorporation into Caledon State Park.
- Item 378#2h directs $3 million to Prince William County for a wastewater collection system for the Bristow Manor community, helping them to meet environmental standards.
My bills received several votes in the Senate this past week. House Bills 814 and 815 both passed out of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee. HB814 directs the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD) to annually review state agencies’ plans to enhance procurement from small, women- and minority-owned businesses. HB815 will establish a mentorship pilot program for start-up women- and minority-owned businesses.
House Bills 820 and 821 were both reported and re-referred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. HB820 asks SBSD to conduct a business disparity study every five years. HB821 adds a judge to the 31st Judicial Circuit, increasing the maximum number of judges in Prince William County’s Circuit Court from six to seven.
House Bill 822, which will modernize the Town of Occoquan’s charter and bring its local elections in line with the rest of Virginia, was reported out of the Senate Committee on Local Government on Monday and passed the full Senate unanimously on Wednesday. This bill will now be law!
If you have any questions or comments about the General Assembly Session, please reach out to my office at email@example.com or 703-785-2224.