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On fourth try, Va. Senate passes budget

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fourth time's the charm, apparently, for the Virginia Senate.

The body approved a new two-year, $85 billion budget bill Wednesday — a day after Democrats in the chamber had blocked one for the third time this year.

The evenly-divided 40-member chamber requires 21 votes to approve a budget. Sen. Charles J. Colgan, Prince William Democrat, broke ranks with his caucus Wednesday to deliver the decisive vote Republicans had desperately sought after sticking with his party the three previous times.

Republicans had appeared confident that they won over Mr. Colgan for Tuesday's vote. Mr. Colgan, one of a handful of negotiators who helped craft the final conference report, put his signature on it last week.

Gov. Bob McDonnell met privately with Mr. Colgan, Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat, and Senate Caucus Chairman A. Donald McEachin, Henrico Democrat, on Tuesday and presented Mr. Colgan a letter concerning the 23-mile Rail-to-Dulles project, which had been the key sticking point for Democrats. It affirmed the governor's support for the project but also said the state would not provide any money above the $150 million it has pledged as part of an agreement with the other funding parties.

That was enough for Mr. Colgan, but the letter's tone enraged party leadership and swayed the 85-year-old Senator's vote from an intended "yea" to "nay" — for that time being, at least.

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