In Richmond, House of Delegates and Senate budget conferees have resumed negotiations on their competing budgets and say they are actually close to agreement on many programs, such as higher education funding.
Both budgets are in the $85-billion range. But House conferee Kirk Cox says the totals differ, and his team opposes the hundreds of millions in toll-relief for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. “They spend a lot more money than we have. From a macro-level, we have a lot less debt in our budget that they have. They have a lot more bonding. We just really feel like that’s a lot of bond money to buy down tolls—doesn’t make a lot of sense, the details of what other projects suffer because of that,” says Cox.
Senators say the relief is badly needed and especially fitting for Hampton Roads, where tolls will begin before the construction does. They’ve also insisted on their restored safety net and cost of competing funds for both Medicaid and school support personnel.
–Anne Marie Morgan