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McDonnell Lays State Budget Plans for Next Fiscal Year - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McDonnell Lays State Budget Plans for Next Fiscal Year

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Governor Bob McDonnell laid out plans Monday for amending the state budget heading into the next fiscal year. Transportation and education reforms are at the top of McDonnell's budget wish-list this holiday season.

Some of those education reforms came up last week, including a 2 percent raise for teachers across the state. But the proposals steering much of the discussion in Richmond Monday centered around transportation infrastructure and education priorities.

McDonnell proposed a slew of new budget amendments Monday to the general assembly money committees. His priorities focused on what he calls the "core functions of government."

"Reform and better fund transportation, infrastructure and k-12 public education," said McDonnell.

McDonnell announced last week his plans to raise teacher salaries 2 percent next year.

"It's something that my side of the aisle has been focused on for a long time is education. And I'm glad that we're going to take some positive steps toward that," said Delegate Charniele Herring, chairwoman of the Democratic party of Virginia.

But the fight over roads and how to pay for them is not creating such consensus. In one amendment, McDonnell wants to increase the amount of sales tax revenue used for transportation projects. Democrats argue that would take resources away from things like schools and public health.

"Do we want to deprive these general fund programs to pay for transportation, or do we want to act responsibly and just raise money for transportation?" said Senator Janet Howell (D) with the Senate Finance Committee.

Democrats also say raising the gas tax would help pay for roads. But republicans argue heightened fuel efficiency standards make that a difficult prospect long-term.

"We've got to figure out a better way of funding transportation infrastructure for the next 50 years, and gasoline tax is not it," said Speaker Bill Howell (R).

With economic uncertainty largely tied to the looming fiscal cliff, McDonnell also proposed amendments that would more than double the commonwealth's rain day fund, raising it to $740 million in fiscal year 2014.

Legislators now have the task of reviewing the governor's proposals during the general assembly session that begins January 9. Legislators can choose to adopt any or none of the governor's proposals when they meet next month.

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