Virginia House, Senate now Must Reconcile Budget Bills

TYLER WHITLEY AND JEFF E. SCHAPIRO TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITERSPublished: February 26, 2010 Updated: February 26, 2010 Source: Courtesy of Richmond Times Dispatch

The House of Delegates and Virginia Senate easily approved budget bills yesterday, but the hard part, trying to reach agreement on widely different bills, lies ahead.

The two bodies now have about two weeks to fashion a budget on which they can agree before the scheduled March 13 adjournment.

After almost four hours of partisan wrangling, the House passed its budget bill 61-38, with all the Republicans and two independents voting for it and all Democrats voting against.

The Senate plowed through its budget-balancing plan in about an hour, approving the package 30-10.

"I've seen some difficult budgets but never as tough as this one," said Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, a 34-year veteran.

Only Republicans voted against the measure. They included two from the Richmond area, Stephen H. Martin of Chesterfield County and Ryan T. McDougle of Hanover County.

In the House, Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, acknowledged the difficulty in making $4 billion in cuts to balance the budget.

"However, I believe that the budget before us today strikes a sensible balance between meeting the core commitments that we as politicians like to talk about and the burden placed on the taxpayers who must foot the bill."