Senate Dems reject latest budget proposal

State Senate Democrats voted Tuesday against the state budget conference report because they said it did not properly address funding for projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

“The issue here is the lack of transportation funding in two different regions of the state,” said State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax). “Rail to Dulles will be an economic bonanza because of the jobs it will bring the Commonwealth. And yet some do not want to fund this project properly. The state has only contributed $200 million. Currently $150 million is pledged, but there are all sorts of rules attached to it. The state must make a substantial contribution to this vital project.”

The Dulles issue is key to Northern Virginia legislators, and general transportation needs across the Hampton Roads region is another.

“I am hopeful that we can ensure that the tolls in Hampton Roads will be delayed for a year. But what happens when 2014 gets here? Are we still going to be staring down these sky-high tolls? The governor must deliver on his promises to develop a realistic, sustainable transportation plan that does not include these heavy tolls,” State Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, called the Senate Democrats’ rejection of the budget “reckless” and “fiscally irresponsible.”

“Budgets are a tapestry of compromises. No legislator ever gets everything he or she wants in a governing fiscal document. Nonetheless, all involved can get much of what they seek if there is cooperation and civility in the process,” said McDonnell, calling the budget rejected by Senate Democrats a “positive document.”

“This budget made historic investments in our higher education system so more Virginia students can access and afford our great colleges and universities. It reduced unfunded liabilities in our retirement system by nearly $9 billion by 2031, an historic achievement that ensures our dedicated state employees will receive the retirements they have been counting on. The budget combined accountability and innovation with over half a billion dollars in new funding for our K-12 system. It improved public education in the Commonwealth. And this budget provided fiscal liquidity and stability for Virginia as we continue to navigate a very uncertain economy.

“Now, Senate Democrats, continuing a trend, have killed a budget for a third time. They will have to answer to every single Virginian. This vote will have real consequences in creating uncertainty and chaos for local governments, school boards and countless agencies and individuals,” McDonnell said.


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