STATE BUDGET WRITERS STRIKE A DEAL

Virginia lawmakers have reached an agreement on amendments to the state’s two-year, $80 billion budget, setting up a floor vote Sunday, a day after the legislature was to adjourn.

The deal came at 1:10 a.m., and after negotiations took a turn for the worse Saturday.

Lawmakers ran into sharp differences over funding for higher education, health and human resources and public building programs.

By late Saturday afternoon, House Republicans were threatening to adjourn without approving budget amendments. Eventually, lawmakers agreed to work out a compromise.

At one point in the waning hours of negotiations, tired negotiators sharply disagreed over minuscule line items, often a few thousand dollars.

There also were last-minute quarrels over funding for charities, foundations and other non-state agencies that often are embedded in the budget.

Negotiators agreed to require state employees to contribute five percent of their annual salaries into the Virginia Retirement System; that would be offset by a five percent pay raise.

They also agreed on funding changes for public schools, transportation and other core services. Lawmakers set aside $30 million to fund community-based care for the intellectually disabled.

Public broadcasting would take a 10 percent hit under the proposal.

For the second year in a row, weary staffers planned to work through the night to enter the data into spreadsheets. Lawmakers planned to take the floor by 5 p.m. Sunday to begin debating the measure.

It is the sixth time in 12 years that the Assembly has failed to pass a budget on time.

 

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