Virginia Democrats send counteroffer in state budget standoff

August 15, 2023
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BY SARAH RANKIN

Updated 4:47 PM EDT, August 11, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Senate Democrats have proposed their latest counteroffer in drawn-out negotiations with House Republicans over the state budget, two lawmakers involved in the talks confirmed Friday.

The full terms of the proposal were not immediately disclosed. But Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds said in an interview that his caucus had made an offer that included serious concessions, including on some of the permanent tax cuts House Republicans and Gov. Glenn Youngkin have been seeking. It could pave the way for a deal, he said.

“I think it certainly is the basis for getting this resolved in the next couple of weeks,” Deeds said.

The politically divided General Assembly ended its regular session in February without reaching agreement on the full spending plan. Private negotiations between representatives of the GOP-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate have been underway since then. Talks broke down in June after the two sides disagreed on a word of mouth agreement struck to get through the primary elections.

Because the state operates on a two-year budget, with the plan initially adopted in even-numbered years and amended in odd-numbered years, the impasse hasn’t halted the functioning of the state government, even as the state moved into a new fiscal year July 1. There’s already a budget in place.

But lawmakers have faced criticism for not moving more quickly on the spending plan at a time when the state has a multibillion-dollar surplus, the exact size of which has been under dispute. School districts, local governments and a wide range of advocacy groups and special interest groups have been closely watching for progress.

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Del. Barry Knight, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, confirmed Friday that he had received a 21-page proposal from Senate Democrats a day earlier. He said in a text message that the proposal was still under review.

Deeds said the offer represents a “consensus view” that Senate Democrats “had to swallow some toads to get to.”

The possibility of a budget resolution would be a relief to local officials who were depending on additional revenue to invest in teacher and county employee raises.  Although both county Boards of Supervisors stated that the raises would happen regardless of what the State did, the anticipated additional revenues will help take some pressure off of the local budgets.

Delegate Rob Bloxom said he wasn’t sure if Democrats were negotiating in good faith.

Pep Up

“I am glad the Senate has responded to our proposal we gave them three weeks ago,” said the Eastern Shore’s Delegate, one of the conferees in this process. “I’m not sure if they are serious about getting this resolved, but the House is studying their offer.”

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