This Week in Richmond

Posted: March 25, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

This weekly column, written by Thomas Hennessey, chief of staff to President Alan Merten, is published to keep the university community informed on the legislative situation in Richmond and how those developments directly affect George Mason.

Twelve days after the General Assembly was to have adjourned for the year, the House and the Senate remain deadlocked over the budget. To oversimplify, but highlight the impasse, the House refuses to increase revenue through any tax increases while the Senate insists that tax increases are the only fair means of ensuring adequate revenue to meet state needs.

The House and Senate adjourned on March 13 and immediately agreed to reconvene for three days. When no agreement was reached by their respective budget conferees, the governor called a special session beginning March 17. Last weekend, the House and Senate agreed to adjourn temporarily and reconvene. The Senate was to reconvene yesterday, while the House is scheduled to reconvene on Saturday, March 27. Meanwhile, budget conferees continue to work in Richmond examining possible areas of agreement and compromise.

Many members of the General Assembly have organized town hall meetings in their districts over the next two weeks, and the tone of the meetings will likely influence the members’ later actions on the budget impasse. As reported Monday, the impasse has generated a series of “what-if” scenarios. Although no one would like to imagine that at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, there would be no resolution, opinions differ as to what is possible. While the Virginia constitution specifically vests the power to appropriate money in the legislature, subject to the governor’s veto, it also grants the governor “chief executive powers” that could give him the authority to spend money on core functions.

Write to at