Budget Controversy

This is the week when the full Virginia Senate and House of Delegates begin voting on their competing versions of the state budget.  Committees in both chambers passed their amendments to the two-year spending plan introduced by Governor McDonnell—and some provisions are quite different.

The House panel unanimously approved its spending plan, but no Democrats voted for the plan passed by the Senate committee. Since the Senate bill needs 21 votes to pass, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cannot vote on it, a “no” vote by all 20 Democrats would kill it.  Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw implied that his caucus will insist on concessions:

“There’s some things that need to be worked out, you know—budgetary-wise, politically-wise, everything-wise. But absent zero-changing, there won’t—probably won’t—be a Senate budget,” said Saslaw.

He would not confirm if they’re asking for a power-sharing deal.  GOP Senators say they’ve made concessions, such as rejecting the Governor’s plan to use some of the sales tax for transportation.  But the Senate could also kill the House bill—which would leave the state with no budget.  And unlike a decade ago when a deadlocked Assembly left the Governor to adjust the budget, House Majority Leader Kirk Cox said no budget would exist to adjust.

“Whether it’d be higher ed, K-12, and health, etc., I hope those folks that are affected by those budgets understand what happens if a budget doesn’t go through.  That directly, obviously affects them,” said Cox.

–Anne Marie Morgan



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