In a party-line vote, the Virginia Senate on Thursday killed the last budget plan still alive in the General Assembly, dashing hopes that a state spending plan will be adopted before next week’s deadline.
Democrats voted down the $85 billion budget plan amid a push for more spending and more representation on Senate committees. Republicans took control of the committees, which largely determine which bills live or die, in the evenly divided upper chamber in January with help from Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R)’s tie-breaking votes.
Bolling does not have authority to vote on the budget.
The budget plan died on two votes — 20-20 and 20-19 — on a pair of budget bills. The budget requires 21 votes to pass, so even the second vote — taken while Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) had stepped out of the chamber to retrieve a bottle of water — did not constitute passage.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) could still send down a a new budget, but observers said it was unlikely that a new plan could pass before legislators adjourn March 10.
The General Assembly has adjourned before without a budget, but legislators would have to return for a special session to adopt one before the new fiscal year begins July 1, Virginia Finance Secretary Richard D. Brown has said.
If lawmakers fail to adopt a plan by July 1, a partial government shutdown is likely.