UPDATE: Senate committee passes budget

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-22 19:04:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Members of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved an amended version of Gov. McDonnell's proposed $85 billion budget during an hour and half meeting Thursday.

The move, which is a positive sign state lawmakers are closer to reaching a budget deal, calls for reallocating money in areas like education, public safety and health care.

Lawmakers were split on those issues before they finally passed the updated version.

"I'm pleased that we're now focused on a budget," said Senator Ryan McDougle (R) 4th District. "[But] it didn't have to get to this point."

Senator Henry Marsh (D) 16th District said he feels this is a budget everyone can support.

The Senate will vote on the budget amendments Monday.  Then, it goes to the House for approval, which could take weeks, before finally heading to McDonnell's desk.

However, legislators still have not been able to agree on how to pay for the $3 million needed to fund the new law that requires woman to undergo an abdominal ultrasound before having an abortion.

That budget change will be submitted Monday by Senator Donald McEachin.

However, even though lawmakers have made progress on a spending plan, McDonnell said the budget delay is unacceptable.

On the other hand, lawmakers said that they work for taxpayers and not the governor.

"Virginian's were putting pressure on lawmakers to get a budget done," said McDougle.  "The frustrating thing was we not talking about issues surrounding the budget prior to this week."

However, Democrats insist the focus for Republicans has been on social issues and not on the budget.

"We're protecting the rights of people who expect certain things from their government and that's what we're doing," said Marsh.  "We were sent down here, so the priority of the people were taken care of."