Virginia State Senator Mark Herring released the following statement regarding the progress of negotiations over the budget:
“I am pleased that over the past few days, my Republican colleagues have come to the table and are now engaged with my Democratic colleagues and me in a true bipartisan discussion.
I previously voted against the Senate Republican budget because it shortchanged Northern Virginia, and I refused to be bullied or intimidated into voting for a budget that was not in the best interests of the people I represent. It failed to address funding for Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail Project and inadequately funded our public schools.
Extending the Metrorail to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County is one of the most important transportation projects in the Commonwealth. It is a project of local, state and national significance. I have consistently maintained that Virginia needed to make a significant contribution to the project, but the Senate Republican budget was silent on Phase 2 funding. I am negotiating to include in the budget a $400 million state contribution that will help keep toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road from skyrocketing out of control and allow us to better position ourselves to obtain some federal funding for the project.
The Senate Republican budget also failed to fully restore Cost of Competing funding for Northern Virginia that is needed to help educate children growing up in our region. My budget amendment would fully restore the $65 million to Northern Virginia schools, and I am fighting to have the full amount included in the final budget.
The changes I am fighting for would result in a budget that is balanced, fiscally responsible and, I believe, far better addresses the needs of our region than the original Senate budget that I voted against two weeks ago.
Adopting a balanced, responsible budget is a fundamental responsibility we share as members of the General Assembly. It is a process that requires thoughtful deliberation and bipartisan cooperation. I remain confident now that Senate Republicans appear ready to roll up their sleeves and engage with Senate Democrats in a truly bipartisan negotiation, that we can bridge our substantive differences and pass a budget in the coming weeks.”