After both chambers approve their respective packages of amendments to the budget, the process will move into its third stage, negotiations. Representatives from the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees will work out the differences between their versions of amendments to the budget. Those legislators have to reach agreement on a single version of the budget that can win approval in both the Senate and the House prior to our scheduled adjournment on February 26.
For the final stage of the process, the budget amendments approved by the General Assembly are sent back to the Governor. He then gets a final opportunity to suggest changes to the General Assembly’s plan. Legislators vote on his recommendations during the one-day Reconvened Session on April 6.
If you’ve been keeping count, you know the entire process creates five different versions of the budget before the sixth and final one is signed into effect by the Governor sometime after April 6. They are, in order, one introduced by the Governor, one approved by the House and one approved by the Senate, one agreed upon by the House and Senate, and one agreed upon by the House and Senate with the Governor’s recommendations.
Virginia’s budget process is very thorough.
Governor Bob McDonnell announced this week the designation of a Virginia Enterprise Zone (VEZ) in Pittsylvania County. This locality will use state and local enterprise zone incentives to create new jobs, promote private investment and support the overall growth of the local economy. The Governor has proposed $1 million in his budget to take additional steps toward fulfilling Virginia’s commitment to the Enterprise Zone program – an effective incentive for job creation and real property investments in distressed communities. This was very exciting news for Pittsylvania County and the 19th District. This is just one step in the many steps that we must take in order to return our area to economic prosperity. After session, I will be calling together both business and community leaders in our area to develop a comprehensive package of legislation that I will submit in the 2012 legislative session that, when passed, will create the economic climate that we will need to bring jobs and economic opportunity back to the 19th District.s Crossover, some of my bills have made it out of the Senate and will move to the House for consideration, while others appear likely to win approval before the February 8 deadline. This week, my SB1379 (discussed in last week’s column) pertaining to the criteria for grants or loans from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund, passed the Senate unanimously. Also, my SB 1380 relating to membership on the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services also passed the Senate unanimously. Another bill passed the Senate that I co-patroned with my colleague, Senator Richard Stuart, that will be very important to our area’s economic recovery. SB998 reduces the corporate income tax rate from 6 percent to 3 percent for the first three years after a business that is either: (1) located outside Virginia or (2) is located in a high population area in Virginia, locates its business operation in a rural area (with a population of 200,000 people or less) and makes a capital investment in the area of at least $250,000. If successful, this bill could bring real sustainable jobs to our district. Another one of my bills, SB1382, requires that the assessment of mandates imposed on local governments by the state include a detailed cost-benefit analysis to determine the value of the mandate in relation to the required or intended output or desired result, as well as a written justification as to why the mandate should or should not be eliminated. Mandates are requirements by the state government for local governments to perform a certain government function at the local level, usually at great expense to the locality. I believe that before the state commands the locality to do something at the locality’s cost, it must justify the reason for the mandate, and demonstrate to the locality the benefit that it will derive from it. This will make government more efficient and the state more responsible to the needs and budget constraints of local governments. That bill was reported from the Senate General Laws and Technology and will come before the full Senate in the next day or two.
We had a tremendous amount of visitors from the district this week and it is always good to see friendly faces from home. Traveling to the Capitol from Franklin County were Amy Trail, Jason & Lavada Robertson, Sheriff Ewell Hunt, Sgt. Tim Tatum, Lt. Mark Sweeney, Investigator Justin Sigmon, and Sgt. Eric Ingram. Campbell County visitors included Ron Ferrin, Phyllis Everett, Paul & Jackie Anctil. Visitors from Danville/Pittsylvania County included Victor Crittenden, Lorie Moran, H. F. Haymore, Jr., Judge Joe Milam, Sheriff Mike Taylor and many other law enforcements officers of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Dept., Sheriff Mike Mondul, and other law enforcement officers from Danville, Brian Riley, Shannon Hair, Peter Howard, Mary Catherine Plaster, James Snead, Tim Barber, Marshall Ecker, and Coy & Jean Harville.