Home Virginia Politics BREAKING: Virginia State Senate Rejects Budget on 20-19 Vote

BREAKING: Virginia State Senate Rejects Budget on 20-19 Vote

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A few minutes ago, the Virginia State Senate rejected the budget conference report, which means we’re back to the bargaining table. I watched a number of speeches, including by Senators Saslaw, McEachin, Petersen, and Herring. The main issues holding up the budget were: a) tolls in Hampton Roads; and b) funds for extension of the Silver Line – about which I have mixed feelings – to Dulles Airport. Stay tuned for a statement from the Senate Democratic caucus, and hyperventaliting from Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, etc, etc.

P.S. Why on earth did only 19 (out of 32) House Democrats vote “nay” on this thing?

UPDATE: After much speculation that he might defect, Sen. Colgan ended up voting with the rest of his party on this one.

UPDATE #2: Senate Democratic Caucus statement on the “flip.”

UPDATE #3: NLS has a fascinating analysis of why Republicans are 100% at fault here.

Senate Democrats Reject State Budget



Democratic Senators push for additional funding for transportation

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senate Democrats voted against the state budget conference report because it did not properly address funding for projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said, “The issue here is the lack of transportation funding in two different regions of the state. 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.”

Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) said, “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.”

Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, “I am voting no today because this budget does not include enough money for the most important construction project in the Commonwealth. Rail to Dulles is a vital project. It will connect the people of Northern Virginia to one of the most important airports in the country – and to the world. Governing magazine says this is the #1 most important project in the country. The Governor says he supports the Dulles rail project. It’s time for him to prove that,” Senator Saslaw added.

Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “Every year for the past 13 years that I have had the privilege of serving in this legislature we have kicked the can down the road on transportation. Tolls are not the answer to our state’s transportation problems. Tolls can be part of the solution, but they are not the answer. To shackle Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia with heavy tolls is not how a Commonwealth should act. Tolls are just a band-aid solution to a statewide problem.”

“I have an obligation to the citizens I represent and to the people of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun). “Dulles Airport is one of Virginia’s largest job generators and critical to the continued economic prosperity of Northern Virginia. Virginia needs to make a significant additional contribution to the project in order to reduce the burden of exorbitant tolls and that’s why I could not support this budget.”

Despite Republican statements to the contrary, recent history proves that local governments have been largely unaffected by previous budget disagreements. In 2004, disagreement between the House and the Senate meant the budget was not resolved for almost two months past the Senate’s scheduled deadline. In 2006, no budget was agreed upon for 102 days, more than 3 months past the Senate’s scheduled deadline.

State funding for the current year is stable through July 1. That’s 74 days from now. That leaves two months for Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise on the budget – and Senate Democrats are committed to working with Republicans to create a budget that includes all Virginians, not just some.

  • kindler

    Transportation is out of control in NOVA — thanks for standing up for your constituents.  

  • House Democratic Caucus Statement on Budget Vote

    Richmond-Today in the House of Delegates, the state budget conference report to appropriate $85 million over two years was considered. The final vote on the 2012-2014 budget was 77-19. However, the bill failed to pass in the State Senate due to the lack of funding for the most important economic development project in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    “The Governor snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” said Caucus Chairman Mark Sickles (D-Franconia). “The Governor had every opportunity to find a modest amount of money that would have addressed the concerns of middle class families in Northern Virginia who face skyrocketing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. He decided not to do it.”

    “We are very close to having a very good budget,” said Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville). “We just need to work a little harder and we will be able to get it.”

  • FreeDem

    Do you have a list, and any explanation, of the House Democrats that voted for it?

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    One reason I was looking forward to a line to Dulles from DC is that I would love to be able to travel by train from central VA to Union Station (or to a stop in NoVA on the Amtrak line) and then connect by rail to Dulles to pick up cheaper air flights than I can get in Roanoke, Greensboro, or even Charlotte (i.e., Virgin America flies from Dulles to West Coast for less than almost any other airline). Just a dream of mine…

    I realize there has been a controversy over siting parts of the line and tolls to come on the Dulles toll road, but if NLS is correct (and I bet he is) this refusal to fund the line from the state well may be another GOP attack on use of union labor.

    As for the Hampton Roads tolls, the collection of such horrendous amounts for future construction makes little sense as the only funding mechanism for projects there, projects that are desperately needed. I personally agree with Louise Lucas: “The Governor must deliver on his promises to develop a realistic, sustainable transportation plan that does not include these heavy tolls.” Or, certainly not simply depend on those tolls…