(The Center Square) – The Virginia General Assembly met in Richmond on Wednesday and voted to finalize the overdue budget deal recently reached by the House and Senate Finance Committees – but not without some impassioned speeches from the floor, many of whom, on the single resolution, lawmakers were asked to pass.
The assembly passes amendments to the state’s biennial budget every odd-numbered year, but this year the House and Senate continued to debate the budget past the July 1 deadline, when the government begins. fiscal year. Eventually, the committees reached an agreement, and Governor Glenn Youngkin called for a meeting. special session legislators to codify it.
The session began in the House with a motion for a resolution to treat the budget bill as a conference report – for members to waive their right to normal procedures, during which they could debate or amend the bill. law and vote for or against.
It goes against precedent, but Fairfax County MP Marcus Simon seemed to speak for many when he voiced his ultimate support for the resolution despite its “unusual provisions”.
“Even though I’m a process expert…and I don’t like that it could be seen as setting a precedent for the future – I hope it won’t be,” Simon said. “I support the resolution, and I hope we all vote yes for it. Let’s get in, get out, and enjoy the great results this budget will bring to hard-working Virginians across the Commonwealth.
The House quickly voted 83 to 5 in favor of the resolution. The resolution was then sent to the Senate to be voted on.
Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, spoke out against the resolution, unhappy with the way it departed from standard legislative procedure and fearing it would set a bad precedent for the future.
“Madam President, while I hope this procedural resolution will pass, I wanted to make sure members knew and understood that this was a sea change and a complete departure from the way which this body has functioned at all times, and I will be voting against this resolution,” McDougle said.
He was followed by Sen. Bill Stanley, of R-Franklin County, raising similar objections.
“Madam President and members of the Senate, I join my friend, the senator from Hanover, in his concern,” Stanley said, calling for a return to consensus on the budget within 60 days (45 days in odd-numbered years). ), allowing for “fresh and lively debate” and greater transparency with the public – and not setting a bad precedent for the many new members who will join the General Assembly in January.
“Is this now the accepted way of doing things? We just wait for the session to be over and for a few elected officials to go and decide… then come out and say, “Here! And oh, by the way, you can’t amend it, you can’t participate for your constituents? Should you vote for or against? Stanley asked.
Senators John Cosgrove and Thomas Norment defended the resolution, saying it didn’t need to set a precedent and members could move a resolution next session to change it.
In the end, the Senate voted 30 to 9 in favor of the resolution, and both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed budget.