This year’s General Assembly session may technically be “short” because it lasts only 45 days as opposed to the 60-day sessions we have in even-numbered years. Considering what legislators will be taking up this year, and that we’ll be returning to Richmond multiple times to complete redistricting for the entire General Assembly and Virginia’s seats in the United States Congress, this year will seem anything but “short” by the time our work is completed.
Making changes to the biennial budget is the primary focus of the “short” session. Although a budget is already in place, it is necessary to make alterations to it based on changing economic conditions and revenues. This process has become more challenging since the national economic climate began its decline in 2008. This year will be no different, as we work to make tax revenues go further in what has been a slow and sluggish reemergence from recession.
Senate Republicans will be advancing a package of measures to increase transparency and strengthen accountability in the budget process. Keeping government spending under control will be a key focus for us, as we promote new safeguards to ensure fiscal responsibility. And, Senate Republicans will be fighting against new taxes and tax increases. Senate Republicans are committed to making Virginia’s government more efficient and more cost-effective, and to giving taxpayers better value for their tax dollars.
While the primary responsibility of the General Assembly this year is to approve amendments to the budget, Governor McDonnell is also advancing proposals to reduce the size, scope, and roll of state government.
The Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring issued its report and recommendations late last year. Multiple pieces of legislation will come before the General Assembly to enact the Commission’s recommendations. We can expect action to begin on reducing the number of state Boards and Commissions, making changes to health insurance options for state employees, and other cost-saving ideas that the Commission endorsed.
Measures to create jobs and increase opportunity, and to protect the right-to-work for all Virginians, will also be a major focus of the session. In the weeks to come, you’ll be hearing a lot about legislative initiatives to ensure that Virginia leads the way toward economic recovery.
After the regular session is completed, lawmakers will return to Richmond to complete work on the decennial redistricting.
This year promises to be productive and eventful, as we ensure that the Commonwealth’s fiscal house is in order and better prepare Virginia for the challenges ahead.
We’ll keep you fully apprised of all the significant developments between now and the scheduled adjournment of the regular session on February 26.