Va. House, Senate Debate Cushion in Budget

Sustaining stimulus cash at issue in budget talks

RICHMOND, Va. -- Just as Virginia revenues took their sharpest plunge on record and budget writers braced for the worst, Uncle Sam flew to the rescue.

The $1 billion-plus state government will receive from the federal stimulus package means the difference between a stingy state budget and a desolate one.

A dozen legislators tailoring the budget's final form worry about the recession outlasting the two-year stimulus package.

After meeting privately Friday with Gov. Tim Kaine, House and Senate budget conferees agreed not to use the one-time cash to feed long-term spending.

House negotiators want an unspent cushion of at least $200 million. The Senate plan anticipates about a $50 million cushion.

Talks start Sunday. The target for reconciling the plans is Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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