State lawmakers have jump-started Virginia’s stalled budget-making process. The state Senate returned to vote on an amended version of the state budget. The chamber’s Finance Committee added some spending items that the House of Delegates may—or may not—approve. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, Senate passage of the budget means the conferees can soon pick up the pace of their negotiations.
Senate Democrats had killed two previous budget measures, but Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw says the new amendments proposed by his caucus greatly improve the spending bill, including money for Northern Virginia mass transit and suspending new tolls in Hampton Roads.
“We’ve not had a situation where they’ve collected tolls four years in advance of the road opening. You usually start collecting tolls the day that you open the facility. So that’s why we added money there. In addition to that, we added about 50 to 60 million dollars more in public school money,” said Saslaw.
Senate Majority Leader Tommie Norment added that many revisions won bipartisan approval. “We increased some of the money that will keep some of our most vulnerable citizens from going off of Medicaid. We added some reimbursements there. We also put some money into higher education and public education with the cost of competing,” said Norment.
Most expect the House to reject the changes and formally send the bill to the conferees.
–Anne Marie Morgan