General Assembly adjourns without a budget

Posted at 12:35 AM, Mar 11, 2012

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)  - On the last day of the G.A. session, it looks like business as usual at the State Capitol.

But the weeks leading up to this point have been very contentious.

"When Republicans come into power usually there's going to be a delay,” said Senator Donald McEachin, (D) 9th District.

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have debated over some controversial legislation like the Personhood bill, repealing the one hand gun a month law, and a measure requiring women to get an ultrasound before seeking an abortion.

"We just got to get off of these political diversions and onto the priorities that the people send us to Richmond on,” said Senator Mark Obenshain, (R) 26th District.

But what you haven't heard much about is how lawmakers plan to spend the $85 billion bi-annual budget.

So, was it a priority?

Obenshain says, "It's been a priority from day one.”

"I think the budget was a priority,” said McEachin.

Democrats blocked the House and Senate versions of the two-year budget, sending over a wish list of items they wanted to either add or change including education, public safety, and transportation.

"It is a little bit frustrating when we set budgets on the table,” said Obenshain, “and there are no concerns expressed from one side of the aisle about anything on the budget."

"It's not a big deal,” said Senator Richard Saslaw, (D) 35th District.  “I mean, people would like to make it a big deal, but it's not a big deal."

At a Saturday evening press conference, Senate Democrats say they're close to a deal on the budget.  And plan to tackle that and other issues when lawmakers reconvene in special session later this month.

"The big beneficiaries of this are going to be the people of Virginia.  I really feel they're right at my back.  They're right with me.  They're saying, 'you stick by it girl,'” said Senator Janet Howell, (D) 32nd District.

The current budget is in place until June 30th.  But both Democrats and Republicans insist they’ll have a new budget passed by the end of this month.

The General Assembly will reconvene on March 21st.  But it will cost taxpayers between $60 to $90 a day when state lawmakers go back into session.