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Progress reported in state budget talks

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 7:50 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia’s budget stalemate continues, but there are signs of progress.

Wednesday afternoon a member of the budget conference committee, Del. Terry Austin (R-Botetourt Co.) told WDBJ7 House and Senate negotiators are very close to an agreement.

Lawmakers left Richmond in March without approving a new two-year spending plan. The majorities in the House and Senate were at odds over how to spend the record surplus, and how much to return in the form of tax relief.

Since then, lawmakers have been fielding questions from constituents.

“Whenever I run into somebody they say hi, how are you? When are we getting a budget?” Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt Co.) said Wednesday morning. “That’s the first question on everyone’s mind.”

Governor Youngkin has been pressing for a deal. He discussed it during an interview with WDBJ7 Tuesday afternoon.

“There are so many critical funding streams in our budget that must be passed to get to work…” Youngkin said. “We must get this done now. Virginians have waited long enough.”

Austin said not to worry, an agreement is on the way.

“I can tell you that we’re very, very close in having a budget,” Austin said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “The larger items that were in contention have pretty much been worked out. And we’re pretty much finished with those issues. We’ve now just got a few minor things we’re working on. And upon completion of those we’ll be ready to get back to business.”

Austin didn’t offer a prediction when that might happen. And he didn’t offer any hints on where the conferees will fall on the major issues.

But he said it will be a “good budget,” that both chambers can support.

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