“We ask a lot of our attorneys, analysts and clerical staff, and they don’t publicly receive very much credit,” House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, said. “We want to take a moment and praise them.”
As is the case every other year, the House of Delegates is taking the lead in preparing the budget, which means the House Finance Committee staff has been under a great deal of pressure.
“Putting together a $4 billion budget is a complicated task, and the members rely on staff to make sure that all the technical aspects are taken care of,” House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White said.
As the conferees near final agreement and accounts are closed, staff must hustle to get the budget ready for print so that all members can have a chance to peruse it.
“My staff worked all night last night and into the morning to make sure that we had the documents we need to work toward a final budget,” said White, D-Mingo. “It is above and beyond the call of duty.”
Speaker Thompson noted that this session is different, because the budget session was delayed by several weeks. The budget session, which usually immediately follows the regular session, is typically the only chance the Legislature has to correct legislation that is vetoed due to technical errors. After that, any bills that are vetoed die.
With the knowledge that in this instance such bills would not die, an abundance of caution and technical scrutiny was exercised, and a number of bills were quickly re-passed at no extra cost.
“That change meant more work for legislative staff, and we want them to know we appreciate it,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile, the time span to prepare the budget, based on Gov. Joe Manchin’s revised revenue estimates, was more compressed.
“President Tomblin, Speaker Thompson, the senators and delegates as well as the legislative staff worked tirelessly this week to finalize and approve the budget,” Gov. Manchin said. “My administration truly appreciates their efforts. This level of cooperation and expediency is unprecedented. I look forward to working with them during the upcoming special session.”