At this point in the legislative session, all eyes are on the state’s biennial budget. This past Sunday the House and Senate money committees met and released their approved amendments to the Governor’s proposed budget. On Thursday, the full House and Senate each met for several hours and passed their respective budgets.
One of the key differences between the House and Senate budgets is the inclusion of medicaid expansion in the House budget. The inclusion of the programs allows the Commonwealth to draw down several hundred million dollars of matching funds from the federal government. This additional revenue allowed the House to fund a variety of initiatives including increased funding for public education and a salary increase for state employees. The Senate budget, absent medicaid expansion, takes a much more conservative approach. It is important to note that negotiations over the budget between the two bodies have yet to occur and with such a significant difference between the two, we are likely to see many changes in the coming weeks.
As we have mentioned over the past several weeks, PWAR remains focused on funding for METRO. The House and Senate budgets provide funding for the transit system in very different ways with the House relying on the repurposing of existing revenue and the Senate relying on regional taxes. PWAR has been diligent in communicating our position on the issue and is meeting regularly with legislators to discuss our concerns over a disproportionate reliance on the real estate industry to fund METRO. The budgets will go to a conference committee next week where representatives from the House and Senate will meet to close the gap between the two bills. We will continue our discussions with legislators and report back at that time.
Listed below are several resources to help you navigate the legislative session. You will find resources to help determine who your elected representative is and how to contact them, how to determine who serves on which committees, as well as when our legislative priorities will be considered. If you care to do so, you can even watch online as these meetings take place!
Brendon Shaw serves as our full-time representative in Richmond and advocates on our behalf. Should you have any questions about legislation, the legislative process, or Virginia REALTORS legislative priorities, he can be reached by email at BShaw@cardinalstrategiesva.com.