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Va. Senate Dems Kill Budget Over Silver Line Funding

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Va. Senate Dems Kill Budget Over Silver Line Funding

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Senate Democrats banded together and killed a Virginia budget deal over a lack of money for the Silver Line Metro project, according to News4's Julie Carey.

This was the third time this year that the state's budget for the next two years has died in the Senate. The result: a risk of the state shutting down government operations and construction projects in 10 weeks or less, according to the Associated Press.

“Today, Senate Democrats cast the most fiscally reckless vote I have witnessed in my 21 years in office," Gov. Bob McDonnell said. "They have killed an $85 billion state budget that benefits all Virginians, for one earmark regarding an 11.4 mile rail project in one district of the commonwealth. That is extremely irresponsible. Senate Democrats, again, put partisan politics ahead of the needs of 8 million Virginians. They brought their political agendas to the Senate floor, and in the process have put at risk a Bristol teacher’s paycheck, a Chesterfield sheriff’s salary, healthcare for a senior citizen in Hampton, road projects in Richmond, and the fiscal soundness of the entire commonwealth."

The major sticking point is the Silver Line project. Democrats want $300 million in funding for the construction, but Gov. Bob McDonnell and the GOP only want to provide half of that.

More from the AP:

Senate Democratic leaders say Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell didn't budge on their demands for more money for a high-priority northern Virginia transit project, clouding prospects for passing a new state budget.

With each party holding 20 Senate seats and faced with a partisan stalemate that for the third time would doom a budget five months in the making, the Senate convened nearly 45 minutes late, then promptly recessed in a last-ditch to salvage an accord.

Democrats hold 20 of the Senate's 40 seats. If they all oppose the budget, the stalemate would kill the $85 billion two-year state spending plan 2 1/2 months before the old budget expires Without it, $2.25 one-way tolls on a 14-mile road linking the Beltway and the airport could double by 2014 and triple within six years.

"Why do people in my part of the state feel abused? It's because of stuff like this,'' said Del. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax County, as debate proceeded on the $85 billion two-year-spending plan for state government.

At least one Republican from the Capital Beltway region appealed for more support for the project.

"This is a project critical to northern Virginia, but it's even more critical to Virginia because northern Virginia is the economic engine for this state,'' said Del. Thomas D. Rust, R-Fairfax County.

Republicans, who overwhelmingly support the budget, adopted the conference report on a vote of 77-19. In the Senate, however, prospects for passage darkened after Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Donald McEachin huddled with McDonnell.

"Doesn't look good right now,'' McEachin said afterward.

Saslaw, scowling, said McDonnell told him he would not sweeten funding for the Dulles project.

"He says he's not going to transfer money from projects,'' Saslaw said. "I guess somebody could explain to me the need for a beltway around Charlottesville.''

Should all 20 Democrats hold, Virginia would find itself without a new budget just 10 1/2 weeks before the old one expires. The Virginia Department of Transportation, in an unprecedented move, already has sent letters to highway contractors to prepare to suspend work as early as next month if a new budget is not passed.

View some of the budget conference report's highlights by clicking here.

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