If you listen very, very carefully you can hear it: A double whirring sound. It is the sound of the late state Senators Ed Willey and Hunter Andrews spinning in their graves.
Four decades ago as Finance Committee chairs they were responsible for establishing the independent authority of the Senate in the state budget process, which before their day was led by the House of Delegates with the House offering the only actual bills. The Senate ended its subsidiary role by introducing its own bills to bring to the inevitable annual conference committee.
News broke late yesterday that the 2018 budget impasse may break later today, with the Senate expected to vote to discharge the Finance Committee and bring the House budget bill directly to the Senate floor for consideration. There will still be Senate amendments offered and adopted, but in reality what will be offered is the final version – the result of an unofficial conference led by Senate Finance Co-chair Emmett Hanger and House Appropriations Committee Chair S. Chris Jones.
Also late yesterday it became obvious that the actual Senate amendments and some summaries were floating around, but initially I couldn’t find them. They were not posted on the Senate Finance Committee web page. I emailed a member of the Senate Finance staff and was politely directed to find them on (ahem) the House Appropriations Committee web page. The Senate hasn’t even met yet but the full amendments are posted by the House. That to me said it all.
Here is the summary if you’d like to go through it on your own. I may follow up on the content after adoption but wanted to note this amazing turn of events. If you are watching the Senate this afternoon and the voting board gets glitchy or paintings start falling to the floor, the names of the poltergeists responsible will be easy to guess.