Tuesday, February 08, 2011

From the desk of Sen. Mark Obenshain

On Sunday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee met to adopt the preliminary budgets of the respective chambers. The myriad of documents released by the two committees is a little overwhelming, so I wanted to provide you with a "cheat sheet" my office prepared, which outlines the basic provisions of each budget side-by-side.

Now, don't mistake this for a list of every budget amendment the two money committees adopted; it's not even close. Instead, it's a quick guide to the significant features of the committee amendments.

Of course, budgets are layers atop layers. Our original baseline is a biennial budget the General Assembly adopted last session. Back in December, Governor McDonnell then proposed a series of amendments for us to consider this session, most of them proposed revisions for the second budget year. This amended budget was introduced as SB 800 and HB 1500 (now reflecting the committee amendments), and that is what we have been working from ever since.

Now, the two money committees have adopted their own amendments to those bills, making changes to the Governor's proposals (though both committees accepted the majority of his amendments). The Governor's budget is what you've heard reported on for the past few months; my "cheat sheet" is designed to show you how the Senate and House budgets differ from the Governor's budget, and from each other.

This is an unofficial document - an internal working paper I've chosen to share with you. There are still a lot of questions about what the committees adopted the other day, and some of these numbers could change. There are limits, moreover, to simplification. At best, this should be considered a quick sketch of the budget actions, not a complete account.

With those caveats aside, however, I do think that many of you might be interested in this glimpse at the first step of our budget process. You'll find the document here - and remember, these are the committee recommendations, not my recommendations! It won't be hard to figure out that I oppose at least a few of the decisions my colleagues on the money committees have made.

Let me know what you think, and if anything is unclear, or you think you've spotted an error, tell me!

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