HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – As state lawmakers get ready to do battle on the budget, Gov. Bob McDonnell turns up the heat.
What -exactly- would happen if Virginia suddenly didn't have a budget? McDonnell laid out the consequences to state lawmakers. He's saying there'd be at least ten specific problems if there's no budget in place...problems all sides hope to avoid when lawmakers return to Richmond Wednesday.
Gaveling in gave way to the gun debate, then the "personhood" bill, probes, and protests. A thousand other bills came and went...but only one is considered crucial. Virginia's $85 billion, two-year budget is still not complete, and so a special session begins Wednesday.
This week, McDonnell signed a letter urging house and senate leaders to get serious. No budget, he says, will put upward pressure on college tuition, jeopardize new funding for K-12 education, and that's not all.
The governor also warns that if there's no budget, state workers would have to be furloughed starting on June 10th, the day they start earning money that gets paid in the new fiscal which begins July 1st.
Senate democrats said earlier this month they've weathered this kind of situation before without dire consequences.
"We are farther along now, towards having a budget," said Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) on March 10th.
The inability to pass the budget is rooted in politics, or policies depending on whom you ask. Republicans say democrats are upset over power sharing. Democrats say republican proposals don't provide enough money for things like education and healthcare. No matter what, its fate now lies in the evenly divided state Senate, and unlike he did on 28 other bills, the lieutenant governor cannot break ties on the budget.
"Those voters are going to tell us we don't have much patience for ya'll all fooling around," said Sen. Tommy Norment (D-James City) on March 10.
Insiders say not to expect too much Wednesday, at least in the early-going. It remains unclear how long the special session will take.