- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2009

RICHMOND (AP) | The state Senate on Thursday chose to wait nearly a week for critical funding information to finish work on its budget.

The House of Delegates passed its revisions to the roughly $77 million budget 88-11 after a prickly partisan debate that lingered into the early evening. It is likely to be amended within days.

Thursday was the deadline for the House and the Senate to complete passage of their own budget revisions. But the Republican-run House, on a party line vote, rebuffed a Senate effort to push back the deadline until Wednesday.

That leaves the Senate technically without a budget, but it’s an action with no practical consequence. The House budget now heads to the Senate, which will simply substitute its version of the budget for the House’s, keeping the process alive.

Either version of the state’s master spending blueprint, however, is subject to a massive overhaul over the next two weeks once two vital pieces of information are known.

First, Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is due to deliver more grim news about the state’s tax collections in the next few days, lowering the official estimate of state revenues on which budgets are based.

In a cratering global economy, state revenues are expected to dip for the sixth month in a row when January’s final figures are released, perhaps as early as Friday.

That leaves the state to await word of how much will flow into Virginia’s budget from the $789 economic stimulus package, now the subject of intense negotiations in Congress. President Obama has asked Congress to complete work on the package by Monday.

“It’s kind of foolish to go through this agony of adopting this budget today, … when you’ve got all new numbers coming in by Monday,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles J. Colgan, Prince William Democrat.

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