Virginia’s budget process is initiated by the Governor who develops and submits a proposed budget for consideration by the General Assembly.
The typical biennial budget cycle begins in the spring prior to introduction of the budget bill the following December. During this period, the Governor’s budget office develops guidelines for a baseline or “current services” budget. Typically, in late spring or early summer, the Governor notifies each state agency of its “current services” spending target. Agencies are allowed to submit addenda requests in the early fall for priorities which could not be afforded within this assigned target.
Concurrent with the process of budget development is that of revenue review. The Governor’s budget office, in consultation with his economic advisors, reviews the Tax Department’s revenue forecast for the upcoming biennium. The establishment of an official revenue estimate is an essential part of the budget process since Virginia must have a balanced budget.
Once the revenue picture is fine-tuned, the Governor and his budget advisors determine which of the addenda proposals that have been submitted will be funded. The Governor now pre-files his budget bill by December 20th to enable members of the General Assembly to receive feedback from constituents prior to the Assembly session.
By custom, the budget bill is introduced in each house of the legislature on the first day of the legislative session in January. In the House, the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee introduce the bill on the Governor’s behalf as House Bill 30 (House Bill 1600 in short session). The Speaker of the House immediately refers this bill to the Appropriations Committee. Likewise, on the Senate side, the identical bill is introduced as Senate Bill 30 (Senate Bill 800 in short session), and is referred to the Senate Finance Committee.