Money Committees Hold Retreats and Prefiling for 2008 Begins

The 2008 General Assembly session, which begins on January 9, will be here before you know it.

Last week, both the House Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly and the Senate Finance Committee held their annual retreats.  The retreats are annual events to help the members focus on  trends, budget knowns and unknowns, and economic conditions that they will be facing when they come to Richmond in January. 

HAC’s staff has estimated that the budget shortfall predicted by Governor Kaine for FY 2008 is valid, and that the budget gap in FY 2009 could be between $50 and $150 million.  For FY 2010, HAC staff projects that the economy will rebalance and revenue will meet expected expenses. The Senate Finance Committee’s staff has predicted a $554 million shortfall in FY 09, and up to $204 million in extra revenue above anticipated expenses in FY 10.

HAC’s retreat, held in Fredericksburg, allowed members to spend considerable time learning about the housing slowdown and subprime mortgage issues and resulting disruption in the capital markets.  The HAC retreat also had a briefing on Higher Education Restructuring featuring two representatives from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), the State Council of Higher Education Executive Officers, and Tony Maggio of the House Appropriations Committee staff.  The presentation concentrated on the levels of decentralization currently allowed in Virginia (Level I, Level II, and Level III), the role of SCHEV, and the affect of restructuring on affordability and access to currently underserved populations. 

The Senate Finance Committee held their retreat in Blackburg at Virginia Tech.  The Senate Finance Committee’s segment on Higher Education focused on base budget adequacy, affordability and financial aid, faculty salaries, and the affect of the current budget reductions.  The Committee learned about the importance of the state funding research and development in institutions of higher education.  The Committee also heard a presentation on Capital Outlay, where they learned that all of Virginia’s higher education institutions will need 1.2 million more square feet by 2014 and that the  Virginia Community College System’s portion of that would be an additional  638,000 square feet.

Prefiling of bills for the 2008 session of the General Assembly began yesterday.  A total of 7 bills have been prefiled to date.  The budget bill will be introduced by the Governor on December 17.  At least 2,900 more bills expect to be filed before the deadline of January 18.

Posted by Ellen Davenport

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