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Stakes Rise In Virginia After Failure To Pass Budget

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Virginia legislators are without a budget for the first time in more than a decade.
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Virginia legislators are without a budget for the first time in more than a decade.

Legislators in Virginia have come to an impasse over the budget. With a 20-20 split in the state Senate, Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach a compromise before the scheduled adjournment on Saturday, with potentially disastrous consequences for state services.

The last time the General Assembly was unable to adopt a budget was in 2001, during the administration of former Republican Governor Jim Gilmore. Democrats and Republicans were unable to come to a compromise, and the budget reverted to a sort of continuing resolution.

This year, though, the stakes are higher because the General Assembly writes two-year budgets. The previous cycle was an interim year, which meant that budget amendments were approved. This year, however, is a biennial year, which means the entire two-year budget is at stake.

Trillions of dollars for transportation, social services and education are at stake, but George Mason University professor Toni-Michelle Travis says it doesn't stop there.

"Wall Street doesn't like uncertainty, and I mean that's that the issue is -- maintaining a AAA bond rating," says Travis. "And that's what usually brings compromise."

While the 20-20 split goes deep, Travis says she suspects the Democrats will blink first: "Maybe not later in March, but April, May or June. They'll hold out as long as they can and then they'll say, 'OK we've made our point. Now we have to have a budget.'"

The deadline for come kind of compromise is June 30.

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