The Washington Post

Finance Secretary Ric Brown: Virginia in uncharted waters on budget

Secretary of Finance Ric Brown said Wednesday that the Virginia General Assembly has never quite been in the situation it is right now following the failure of the Senate to pass a state budget.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (left), Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling( right) and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown (center). (Steve Helber/AP)

But there’s still plenty of time for the General Assembly to get a budget completed before it is scheduled to adjourn on March 10, or later in a special session.

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who is none too pleased about Democrats voting en masse against the two-year, $85 billion budget, has been speaking to legislators and his staff about the impasse, his aides say.

In 2006, as attorney general, McDonnell wrote an opinion for the Republican-led General Assembly that essentially said that absent a legislature -approved budget, the governor could not do much.

“While the governor does have certain implied executive power, such implied authority cannot overcome the sole and specific express grant of spending authority to the legislature,’’ he wrote.

In 2001, when legislators disagreed on what to do about the car tax repeal, then-Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) was able to keep the state running because the state was in the second year of an existing two-year budget.

In the two other years when legislators disagreed on issues in the bill in 2004 and 2006, they were eventually resolved in a special session.

Virginia has had its current budget system in place since 1920, Brown said. The legislature began revisiting the budget annually in 1970.

Brown said the General Assembly now has three options: The Senate can reconsider the bill, both chambers can introduce a new bill by unanimous consent or McDonnell can send down another budget.



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