House to try bud­get do-over af­ter Se­nate’s dead­lock

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

RICH­MOND | The Virginia House of Del­e­gates on Thurs­day agreed by unan­i­mous con­sent to in­tro­duce an­other bud­get in hopes of staving off a po­ten­tial fis­cal catas­tro­phe and the prospects of gavel­ing out the 2012 ses­sion with­out the leg­is­la­ture hav­ing passed a spend­ing plan.

Del­e­gate Lacey E. Put­ney, Bed­ford in­de­pen­dent and the House’s most se­nior mem­ber, made the re­quest.

“The re­spon­si­bil­ity of the state’s fi­nances ul­ti­mately and con­sti­tu­tion­ally be­longs to the Gen­eral Assem­bly,” said Mr. Put­ney, who has been a mem­ber of the House since 1962. “The Con­sti­tu­tion is very clear.”

The bud­get is the same as the amended ver­sion the House ap­proved Feb. 23. That means even if the body pushed it through quickly as planned, it still would end up in the hands of the Se­nate, which dead­locked on a bud­get vote Wed­nes­day.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader David J. Toscano, Charlottesville Demo­crat, asked the fel­low mem­bers of his cau­cus to ac­cede to Mr. Put­ney’s re­quest.

“We can­not get to a bud­get with­out a ve­hi­cle,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re go­ing to agree with the ve­hi­cle.”

The House ap­proved its ver­sion of the two-year, $85 bil­lion bud­get on a bi­par­ti­san 79-21 vote. The state Se­nate, how­ever, blocked its own bud­get bill as well as the House ver­sion, which was amended in com­mit­tee to re­flect the Se­nate bud­get.

The Se­nate is evenly split, with 20 Repub­li­cans and 20 Democrats. But the bud­get re­quires 21 votes to pass, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s tie-break­ing au­thor­ity does not ex­tend to bud­get mat­ters. Democrats voted in lock step against both ver­sions of the bud­get, say­ing they in­ad­e­quately fund ser­vices such as ed­u­ca­tion, health care and trans­porta­tion.

Mr. Bolling, a Re­pub­li­can, used his tie-break­ing au­thor­ity on the first day of the ses­sion to help the GOP or­ga­nize as a work­ing ma­jor­ity as Repub­li­cans

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