We are now one week away from the scheduled end of our 60-day legislative session. This week was enjoyable for me personally, as our son Tyler is a Senate Page and worked with me to prepare for their mock General Assembly Session yesterday. Whitney and Haley Gray drove over from Lynchburg to watch him debate and we were able to be together for a celebratory dinner last night. Tyler is learning many things through the Senate Page Program and we are grateful for the opportunity he's been given.
The House and Senate are finishing committee work and continuing to work on the final state budget. We are committed to finishing strong and on time.
As always, I am grateful for your confidence and look forward to participating in a process that produces good public policy that benefits our district and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
All The Best,
Delegate Scott Garrett M.D.
Last week, I detailed the House's budget proposal. The House budget is a strong, conservative, and structurally balanced two-year budget that invests in the core functions of state government, while protecting taxpayer dollars. I am proud to report that our budget passed 98-2, a wide bipartisan margin, in the House. The Senate also passed their version of the two-year budget.
We now begin the budget conference process to work out the differences between the two versions of the budget. The Speaker has named House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), Delegate Steve Landes (R- Augusta), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R- Colonial Heights), Delegate John O'Bannon (R- Henrico), Delegate Tag Greason (R- Loudon), and Delegate Luke Torian (D- Prince William) as the budget conferees, the individuals responsible for negotiating with the Senate budget conferees.
The Senate and House budget conferees met throughout the week to discuss a final budget proposal. The House remains committed to conservative principles and ensuring the final budget does not contain any tax or fee increases, reduces the amount of bond borrowing, and increases the Commonwealth's "rainy day fund" that acts as a savings account. I am confident we will pass a budget before the General Assembly adjourns next week.
CLEAN POWER PLAN UPDATE
This past week, Governor McAuliffe announced his veto of Senate Bill 21, which is identical to a House bill that would require General Assembly approval before Virginia complies with President Obama's Clean Power Plant regulations. This legislation would protect the Commonwealth from expending taxpayer resources on a set of unconstitutional regulations that are now being reviewed in court. In fact, the Supreme Court stayed the official implementation of the plan because it may be unconstitutional.
Because of the Governor's veto, I worked with my colleagues in the House to include a budget amendment that could prohibit any funds from being spent to comply with the Federal Clean Power Plan. This budget amendment will effectively stop the Governor from continuing to implement this plan without approval of the Commonwealth's elected representatives
VIRGINIA VIRTUAL SCHOOL
Delegate Dickie Bell (R- Staunton) has House Bill 8, which establishes a full-time virtual school program in the Commonwealth. This week, the bill successfully advanced out of Senate committees and will be heard on the Senate Floor next week. Should the bill advance out of the Senate, the House and Senate will conference to hammer out the differences in the language of their versions of the bill. The House of Delegates included funding for the Virginia Virtual School in their version of the budget.
Passage of this legislation would be a huge win for school choice in Virginia. While virtual school is likely not the solution for every child, there are thousands of students across the Commonwealth who will undoubtedly benefit from this program, including countless military families.
Technology is changing many aspects of our lives. Most colleges and universities already offer virtual learning and we are beginning to see the rise of telemedicine. I believe that Virginia could be a leader in virtual programs in K-12. I look forward to continuing these discussions and hope to be able to provide a positive update next week. The final vote in the Senate should be early next week. The final vote in the Senate should be early next week.
Paid and Authorized by Friends of Scott Garrett