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Virginia Senate Democrats make another counteroffer in long-running budget talks

Virginia State Capitol
Posted at 5:04 PM, Aug 11, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Senate Democrats have proposed their latest counteroffer in drawn-out negotiations with House Republicans over the state budget, two lawmakers involved in the talks confirmed Friday.

The full terms of the proposal were not immediately disclosed. But Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds said in an interview that his caucus had made an offer that included serious concessions, including on some of the permanent tax cuts House Republicans and Gov. Glenn Youngkin have been seeking. It could pave the way for a deal, he said.

“I think it certainly is the basis for getting this resolved in the next couple of weeks," Deeds said.

The politically divided General Assembly ended its regular session in February without reaching agreement on the full spending plan. Private negotiations between representatives of the GOP-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate have been underway since then.

Because the state operates on a two-year budget, with the plan initially adopted in even-numbered years and amended in odd-numbered years, the impasse hasn’t halted the functioning of the state government, even as the state moved into a new fiscal year July 1. There’s already a budget in place.

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But lawmakers have faced criticism for not moving more quickly on the spending plan at a time when the state has a multibillion-dollar surplus, the exact size of which has been under dispute. School districts, local governments and a wide range of advocacy groups and special interest groups have been closely watching for progress.

Del. Barry Knight, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, confirmed Friday that he had received a 21-page proposal from Senate Democrats a day earlier. He said in a text message that the proposal was still under review.

Deeds said the offer represents a “consensus view” that Senate Democrats “had to swallow some toads to get to."

He said it involves tax relief, mostly in the form of rebates but also some permanent tax cuts. The offer attempted to cover both parties' top priorities, he said.

Deeds, who is among the small circle of budget conferees involved in negotiations, declined to share a copy, deferring to Sen. Janet Howell and Sen. George Barker, co-chairs of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. They did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The proposal from Senate Democrats comes after House Republicans made their most recent offer last month.