Virginia Senate dices options on budget, none pretty
Senate Democrats are torn about whether to restore the $1.9 billion cut from the state budget by Gov. Tim Kaine to provide relief to taxpayers from their local car tax. If they don't restore the funding, it will likely mean localties will ask car owners to shoulder the full cost of their local car tax bills, resulting in a hefty tax increase.
But what might a budget look like that restores the money?
We understand Senate staff laid out some options for leading budget writers this afternoon , and no one thought they were pretty. To restore car tax relief--and abide by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and the House of Delegate's insistance that there not be a tax increase in the budget--staff said senators would have to cut $1.7 billion from the budget. (That means they found some additional revenues from what Gov. Tim Kaine recommended last month.)
And where would those cuts come from? More than $700 million cut over two years from K-12 education--on top of the more than $650 million already cut in Kaine's budget. More than $475 million from Health and Human Resources, on top of the almost $690 million cut by Kaine. And on and on and on.
At a Monday night Democratic caucus meeting, the arguments began to emerge: Some senators say that when they release the chamber's budget on Feb. 21 they should eliminate or dramatically scale back car tax relief. That way, they can offer a true alternative to the House and Governor and offer a Democratic point of view on governing and budgeting.
Others are opposed to essentially raising the car tax or argue that putting forward such a budget would be too politically painful, since it would result in Republicans and the governor charging the Democrats were pushing what would in essence be a big hike in the car tax, in the midst of a recession.
It's not yet clear how this will work out--some Democrats are already gloomily predicting a number of their caucus may vote against their chamber's budget.
February 2, 2010; 6:27 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate
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