Even though they don't have a live spending plan to work with yet, Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday he is "encouraged" by the informal meetings by budget conferees of both parties from the House of Delgates and Senate to work on a budget compromise.
“While it is still extremely frustrating that our General Assembly session is drawing to a close without a viable budget bill in conference or passed by the Virginia Senate, I am encouraged today as both the House and Senate have identified qualified individuals to work together to negotiate a compromise that could keep Virginia’s government funded and operational past June 30," McDonnell said.
However, Senate Democrats said they still plan to squash the current House plan when it comes to the floor of the evenly-divided chamber later this week. Because Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling can't break ties over budget issues 21 votes are needed to get a budget proposal out of the Senate.
Neither party seems willing to back down over Deomcratic calls for a power sharing agreement - Bolling gave Republicans power in the Senate where both the GOP and Democrats each hold 20 seats with a tie-breaking vote on the first day of session.
McDonnell said although he is encouraged, he is disappointed there is still no spending plan for conferees to work on. He called on Senate Democrats to pass the House plan.
"The House of Delegates has appointed conferees, and the Senate took the step today to identify budget workgroups that can meet about appropriate policy issues identified by both sides in my proposed biennial budget and the one currently pending before the Senate," McDonnell said. "While most Senate Democrats continue their politically motivated obstruction of the budget process, I am pleased that the outcry from citizens, local governments, first responders, and elected officials statewide has influenced this important step toward reconciling policy differences in the budget. I want to recognize the leadership of senators Charles Colgan and Walter Stosch, and Delegate Lacey Putney, for making this initial step forward possible. I call upon the Senate to act upon the House budget which was advanced to the Senate for action earlier this week and to put communities once again ahead of petty committee assignment fights. Passing a budget to ensure citizens continue to receive vital state services and that our first responders, law-enforcement, teachers and other dedicated public servants continue to serve is the most important duty that the General Assembly is sent to Richmond to accomplish. It is time that statesmanship again becomes the order of the day and these conferees meet and advance a budget that will keep Virginia government moving.”