Legislative activity has accelerated as the deadline nears for bills to pass their house of origin. With the exception of revenue, debt, Virginia Retirement System and appropriations bills, all other bills must have cleared committee and be voted out of the House or Senate by Tuesday, Feb. 12. This day is referred to as “Crossover Day.” The revenue, debt, VRS, and appropriations bills must be voted out of their house of origin by Friday, Feb. 15. The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are scheduled to release their respective amendments to the budget bills (“caboose” bills HB 29 and SB 29 and biennial bills HB 30 and SB 30) on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Occurring during crossover week will be the long-awaited announcement by Governor Tim Kaine about the latest economic forecast and its affect on the state’s revenue picture. Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner told members of the House Appropriations Committee on Jan. 30 that the revenue outlook was faltering, and some members demanded that the Governor revise his estimates ASAP. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Wayne Turnage sent a memorandum to cabinet secretaries and state agency heads on Feb. 4 verifying that a mid-session, downward adjustment to the State’s revenue picture was coming. Turnage’s memo asked that hiring be scutinized by the appropriate cabinet secretary, new contracts should be refrained from, travel requests should be put on hold, and discretionary purchases of equipment would not be allowed.
Wagner alluded that the Governor may recommend to take the latest shortfall out of the Revenue Stabilization Fund or “Rainy Day Fund.” The RDF became effective Jan. 1, 1993 and contains an amount not to exceed 10% of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from taxes on income and retail sailes tax for the immediate three fiscal years. The General Assembly may appropriate an amount for transfer from the RDF for no more than 1/2 of the difference between the total general fund revenues appropriated and a revised general fund revenue forecast presented to the General Assembly prior to or during a regular (or special) legislative session.
Posted by Ellen Davenport