The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Friday, June 16, 2006

Raw Data: House Statement on Budget Deal

Statement of House Speaker William J. Howell
-- Regarding Conference Agreement on New State Budget --

RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) this evening issued the following statement upon the agreement by House and Senate conferees on a new state budget:

“First and foremost, I am pleased – as can be all Virginians – that the task of reaching an agreement on a new budget for 2006-2008 has finally been completed. A new spending plan will be enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor before the expiration of the current one on June 30.

“From the House’s viewpoint, consistency and patience have paid dividends for the hard-working, law-abiding and tax-paying people of Virginia. Although we might have completed our work months ago had the Senate not insisted upon unconstitutionally embedding tax increases in its budget, those tax hikes did not survive. The agreement that was reached today does not include a tax or fee increase for citizens of the Commonwealth during this time of budget surpluses and high gas prices. No House plan ever did. And now, we can say that about the final plan.

“While neither side got everything it wanted, the budget ultimately agreed upon will greatly benefit the people of Virginia. We are making record commitments to improve K-12 education and raise teacher salaries, strengthen public safety, increase access to health care, expand mental health care services, combat sexually violent predators, provide for our public colleges and universities, and protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, among other core priorities of state government.

“With this budget, Virginia also will bring an end to its onerous, unfair death tax. This tax, which has burdened family-owned farms and small businesses for generations, is being laid to rest as part of this budget agreement.

“Although today’s events are a critical step forward, the House remains committed to addressing Virginia’s transportation challenges. Because of the unwillingness of the Senate and the Governor to reserve a substantial portion of the available surplus for our roads, the House did not achieve anywhere near the funding for transportation in the current budget that it had wanted or approved. We fought hard for it, but – in the end – the Senate and the Governor refused to modify their funding for transportation without increasing taxes. We will leave it to them to explain why they were determined to starve transportation instead of using hundreds of millions of surplus dollars available to improve roads, rail and transit systems.

“I look forward to our returning to Richmond – after the passage of this budget next week – to continue the current special session and address transportation. As we did earlier this year, the House again will advance a balanced, comprehensive approach to reform, fund and improve Virginia transportation.”

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