First on NBC29: McDonnell Meets with Conferees

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) gave what presumably was a last-minute pep talk to state budget negotiators Friday, as the prospects for an on-time adjournment narrowed.

The governor, accompanied by Chief of Staff Martin Kent, met with the Senate conferees for about 25 minutes behind closed doors at the Senate Finance Committee offices.

Asked if he thought negotiators would strike a budget deal on time, McDonnell simply said, “They’re working hard at it.”

The governor then stepped onto an elevator that would take him to a similar meeting with House negotiators.

Conferees met until about 10 p.m. Thursday, working in small groups to blend two competing budgets into one.

For the first time, negotiators talked in-depth about K-12 education funding, making incremental progress toward narrowing a nearly $600 million gap between the House and Senate plans.

If the General Assembly is to adjourn by Saturday night as scheduled, negotiators likely would need to strike a budget agreement by mid-day Friday.

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