At the end with no end
Published 12:38 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2018
The Virginia Constitution allows sixty days for the General Assembly to consider and act on all legislation. Saturday was the last day. The legislation that should have been passed into law was, as well as a few that shouldn’t have. The Constitution also requires that the General Assembly must pass a budget every even year. Since the budget did not pass, we will come back to accomplish such.
The governor will call us back in session several weeks from now. Those of us charged with working out the differences between the House and Senate budgets will continue to work on finding common ground. The failure to reach a budget agreement was disappointing but not entirely unexpected. The differences between the House and Senate plans was not just how money was spent, but how much money was to be spent. The media has referred to a gap of $800, yet there is an enormous gap — over $3 billion — between what the House and Senate budgets spend. If you can’t agree on how much money you have to spend, you’re going to have a very tough time agreeing on how much to spend.
The underlying issue, whether or not to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, has created a gulf between the two spending plans. The Senate plan is based on money the state has, while the House’s plan is dependent upon federal funding from a program the Trump administration has pledged to end.
The debate over the budget will continue. After that, I will report those things that I and others proposed for the region. Legislative proposals I offered this year, for the most part, were well received and are now on the way to the governor for his signature. They generally focused on the needs of those in this region as well as the businesses that are owned and operated here and employ those in the region.
The two greatest disappointments were a proposal that Sen. Frank Wagner and I offered that focused on greater involvement of workforce training prior to graduating from high school. This was put off until next year, as was another bill I have worked on for several years. Currently, over 90 percent of Virginia’s employers qualify as small businesses. My proposal would have narrowed the definition to better identify and serve those that are truly small employers.
Although the special session will require trips back to the capitol, we will be back at home in the district most of the time from now on. I look forward to meeting you whenever groups invite me to speak. You can still email us at District15@senate.virginia. gov. To reach us by phone now, you’ll want to call (434) 374-5129.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my columns from the capitol this year. I also want to thank this paper for running these columns as a service. I will continue to reflect on issues that affect you and your family as we move forward. I additionally want to thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.