(Charleston) Amendments could out the budget bill debate, paving the way for a Conference Committee that could have the Governor extending the session.
According to the Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R – Jackson), it is expected that the Senate will roll its budget bill into the House of Delegates budget bill. Senate President Carmichael continued saying, “And then we’ll anticipate going to conference and working out any of the differences.”
In conference committee, there will be no shortage of differences to discuss. Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D – Marion) said, “I can show you a list of the things that are not agreed upon.” One major sticking point will be the teacher and state personnel pay raise. The pay raise is in the House of Delegates budget bill but not in the Senate budget bill. Senate President Carmichael said, “They may get a pay raise. It may not be complete as it works through the process without some reforms.”
Senate leadership, still eager for education reform they say enhances school choice, may see the teacher pay raise as the last card to play, holding onto that card with the idea of a special session on education reform sometime after the session officially ends. Senate President Carmichael said, “We’ll continue to look for other avenues. Maybe perhaps we could contemplate a special session shortly after this to consider those options.” Which may mean the pay raise for teachers could still have strings attached. Senate Minority Leader Prezioso said, “I think what they’re trying to do now is push that into a special session so all the issues that were in concern in [Senate] Bill 451, which was the omnibus education bill, will rise again.”
Senate Finance Chair, Senator Craig Blair (R – Berkley), made a prediction saying, “If we got to conference it will only be for a couple of days, unless something goes wrong.”
Conference Committee is where a few legislators from each chamber get together to develop a compromise on a bill that can’t otherwise be reconciled between the two chambers.