Every two years the General Assembly sets the budget for the next two years. This is one of those years. Rather than a 45 day session, it goes on for 60, with the understanding that it’ll take an extra couple of weeks to sort out the budget. (Often it has gone substantially longer, not because of extra work, but because House and Senate Republicans have found themselves at an impasse, and had to stare each other down and see who would blink first.)
The tricky thing about the budget is that it’s all in one fat bill. When a senator or a delegate wants $50,000 for a project in their district, she doesn’t file a bill, but a budget amendment. Those end up as amendments to the House budget and the Senate budget. You can’t track those on Richmond Sunlight. But you can keep up with budget amendments on the General Assembly’s website, which lists every budget amendment filed by every legislator. You can even check to see what your own legislators have requested from state coffers. It’s a great little system that they have set up. A whole lot of money gets spent in this process, so it’s well worth taking a peek at the figures.
Republicans introduced a measure that would create a unified system to track the final budget, keeping a ten year history, SB585 in the Senate and HB1360 in the House. But each bill was passed by for the year in their committees yesterday, effectively killing them.