RICHMOND, FEB. 6 -- On the eve of legislative floor debate on solving Virginia's $2.2 billion budget crisis, a proposal that would require Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to make public details of his frequent use of state aircraft still managed to share the spotlight.

The proposal included in the House budget and Wilder's opposition to it became part of the behind-the-scenes budget maneuvering that included a 90-minute closed meeting of the House Democratic caucus.

As Democratic lawmakers plotted strategy for a rare face-off on the budget, a Republican joked that if Wilder couldn't persuade his party allies in the House to kill the so-called helicopter amendment, the governor could make a deal with his chief Senate foe, Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton). The punch line was that it might cost Wilder $100 million -- the half of his rainy-day fund that the Senate wants to spend.

Del. S. Vance Wilkins Jr. (R-Amherst), the provision's author, said he would resist any attempt during floor action Thursday to have it removed from the House budget proposal by asking for a tally that would record which way members voted.

This year, with the governor and lawmakers facing a $2.2 billion revenue shortfall, every line in the budget is getting microscopic examination.

To protect his $200 million rainy-day fund and restore cuts to health care for the poor and other programs that the governor considers vital, Wilder is lining up support in the Senate to kill amendments that appropriate $140,000 for equipping the Susan Constant, a modern version of one of the colonial ships that landed at Jamestown, and $550,000 for a guest house and visitors center at Clinch Valley College.

But it is the proposed House policy that declares "state funds may be used to finance flights on state-owned aircraft only . . . official business" that aides say has angered the governor.

The state police helicopter and an eight-passenger jet owned by the state Aviation Department could be used "for private purposes only for reasons of security or emergency, and then the full costs . . . must be financed with non-state funds," according to the policy. It concludes that the names of passengers, destination and purpose of the trip "shall be made public immediately" after any flight.

The governor's press secretary, Laura Dillard, said there are "valid reasons" for not making public details of the governor's travels, especially right after a flight.

For example, she said, Wilder might use the plane to meet with officials of United Airlines, which the state is trying to persuade to locate a mammoth maintenance terminal near Dulles International Airport, and "we don't want the other seven {competing} states to know what we're doing."

A Wilder ally, Del. Franklin P. Hall (D-Richmond), said the policy would interfere with the state police force's ability to conduct surveillance by requiring officers to report that "we flew down to Amelia County today to search for a marijuana field."

Although Wilder's out-of-state trips were the subject of news stories during the first six months of his administration, Wilder did not take action until reports suggested that he was using the state aircraft to take vacations with or visit Patricia Kluge, the estranged wife of Charlottesville billionaire John Kluge, who was the largest financial contributor to Wilder's gubernatorial campaign.

After that, Wilder ordered the travel logs sealed, until public pressure -- and a Freedom of Information request from a Charlottesville newspaper -- prompted him to rescind the ban.