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Virginia General Assembly Expected To Focus On Budget Issues

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By Anne Marie Morgan, Virginia Public Radio

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly convenes Wednesday for a short, 46-day session. Although lawmakers will consider a few thousand bills, many believe spending and the state budget will again dominate the session.

Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to reallocate $191 million to job creation, higher education and transportation. House budget conferee Kirk Cox said the governor's plan to shore up the state retirement fund through a 5 percent employee contribution will also be debated.

"He was prudent with a 3 percent increases to offset that, the possibility of a 2 percent bonus, if state employees find the savings, so they can be somewhat made whole. I think that was smart," he says.

Cox says the governor's proposal to accelerate using bonds for transportation will be a significant issue. He and lawmakers recently met with national credit rating agencies and discussed the plan's impact on Virginia's Triple A bond rating.

And a related controversy will be the governor's plan to raise transportation funds by privatizing some aspects of state liquor sales.

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