General Assembly session begins Wednesday with focus on budget

Posted at 8:12 AM, Jan 11, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. - The General Assembly session began on Wednesday.

The session will be the last for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is in the last year of his term.

Members will also be faced with a more than $1 billion budget shortfall.

"That's going to be the number one issue to address," said Sen. Frank Wagner, a republican representing parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Peninsula Democrat Mamie Locke says talking about cuts can be tough. "Everybody of course wants to keep everything that they want to keep, but it cant be that way so you're going to have to let something go," she said. Lawmakers in Hampton Roads are among the most influential in making the decisions.

Gov. McAuliffe laid out his plan in December, including making cuts to higher education and changes to tax policy. "Some of the adjustments he made, I don't necessarily agree with," Wagner said. "I think there's some priorities we need to address."

Several Hampton Roads lawmakers were glad the current plan does not make cuts to K-12 education.

While a budget battle is nothing new in Richmond, there are some changes for members from Hampton Roads. Lionell Spruill is now a senator after a long career in the House of Delegates. "Members of the House are teasing me," Sen. Spruill said. "When I was in the House talking about the Senate, I called them the House of Lords."

On Tuesday, voters elected Rocky Holcomb to fill the 85th district seat in Virginia  Beach. He was sworn-in on Wednesday.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will make his State of the Commonwealth address on Wednesday night.