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Budget battle continues as Virginia lawmakers prepare for close of General Assembly session

More than a dozen lawmakers from the house and senate are serving as negotiators for the...
More than a dozen lawmakers from the house and senate are serving as negotiators for the two-year spending plan.(Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 2:19 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2022 at 4:42 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia lawmakers will return to the State Capitol Saturday to hammer out what’s left for the General Assembly session. More than a dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate serve as negotiators for the two-year spending plan.

“There’s a reason they call it the sausage factory because sometimes you don’t want to know all the things going on that gets you the final bill,” said State Senator Joe Morrissey, (D) 16th District.

A lot is at stake as both Republicans and Democrats have competing ideas over what to do with a record surplus.

The conferees are about $1 billion apart. The House and Senate are split on how far to cut grocery tax, how far to go with tax rebates, whether to double the standard tax deduction, and whether to stop a planned hike of a gas tax.

“We want to give the money back to the people. Whereas in the Democratic side, they want to spend it on services,” said State Senator Amanda Chase, (R) 11th District.

The Senate version of the budget would keep about $12.5 million for Richmond Public Schools under the at-risk program funding. The House budget would eliminate it to make way for charter schools.

“And we’re just getting to that point where we are starting to fully fund our schools again, and so I think that is really the most important thing we can do,” said State Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, (D) 72nd District.

The Senate budget also contains an amendment to stop Richmond from holding a casino referendum this fall and explore Petersburg as a potential site.

“The rights of the people, their constitutional rights have been treaded on. We have spent way too much money,” said Chase.

Lawmakers must take 48 hours to review the budget. At the moment, it looks like they’ll have to come back one day next week for a vote.

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