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Partisan Gridlock Clouds Virginia Budget

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The Virginia Senate is split 20-20 on the budget for fiscal year 2013, without a tie-breaking vote on the horizon.
Jen Goellnitz:
The Virginia Senate is split 20-20 on the budget for fiscal year 2013, without a tie-breaking vote on the horizon.

The Virginia state Senate has defeated a last-ditch effort to craft a budget for the coming year. It's a move that could potentially throw the state’s fiscal future into limbo. On a party line vote, the 20 Republicans in the Senate chamber failed to win over the 20 Democrats to pass a spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

Although he has been able to cast tie-breaking votes on other matters, Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling cannot vote on the budget. Bolling said Senate Democrats are putting policy over people by killing the amended state budget bill.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment says the GOP allocated millions in the budget for the programs that Democrats support, and that it's fiscally shameful for the Democrats to oppose the budget while not offering a single amendment to it: "And then to have the absolute audacity to vote for all the amendments, but reject the budget -- I'm just not smart enough to figure out that strategy."

Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donley says the budget has become hostage to partisan gridlock in Richmond: "The budget doesn’t have anything to do with handguns, and it doesn’t have anything to do with reproductive rights."


Former Senator and budget negotiator Edd Houck says he understands the Democrats' position. He says Republicans assumed they were in the majority right after the elections: "When you take a hard partisan line, you have to expect that there will be a hard partisan response to that."

Lawmakers have several options. They can resubmit new budgets, the Governor can offer a budget to keep key services running, or there could be a special session. Nevertheless, lawmakers are seem to be increasingly likely to leave Richmond this year without passing a budget.



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