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Va. budget Ok’d with stimulus $$

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia legislators on Saturday passed a new state budget using federal stimulus cash to preserve some services that had faced cuts.
The Senate’s 35-5 vote for the $77 billion budget made Virginia the first state to pass a budget containing federal stimulus money.
Slightly more than $1.5 billion in federal cash was used to offset a $3.7 billion shortfall and restore many state health care, educational and public safety cuts Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had proposed in December.
Virginia also stands to get nearly $800 million in federal money it can use on highway maintenance or construction projects.
The House of Delegates had passed the budget on a 90-8 vote about an hour earlier, just ahead of the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment.
The budget restores many of the cuts to public schools and all of the cuts proposed for sheriffs and other local constitutional officers.
It not only restores 200 waivers allowing home care for the mentally disabled but increases it by 200 more.
But a closer look shows substantial pruning of many government services and its work force. State agencies generally take cuts of 5 percent to 7 percent on top of three other rounds of cuts.
State employees who remain will forgo pay raises at least through June 2010.
The restorations are possible because of the federal stimulus money, about $490 million from the state "rainy day" cash reserves and by financing some projects that had been paid with cash.
Opposition to the budget was almost exclusively Republican. Even as they denounced it as the largest federal spending spree in U.S. history that will burden generations to come with debt, 45 House Republicans voted for it.
"It’s curious that many Republicans here today are going to split with their brethren in Washington," said Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, one of seven House Republicans who opposed the bill and called it a "hit job on the American people."
Democrats cheered the stimulus largesse and its author, President Barack Obama, and the Democratic Congress for the stimulus package. The also praised Kaine, who is also the Democratic national chairman.
Del. Kenneth Plum, D-Fairfax, said the federal cash was "salvation" for the state.
"We may have saved as many as 7,000 state employee jobs," said House Democratic Leader Ward L. Armstrong.

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Va. budget Ok’d with stimulus $$

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia legislators on Saturday passed a new state budget using federal stimulus cash to preserve some services that had faced cuts.
The Senate’s 35-5 vote for the $77 billion budget made Virginia the first state to pass a budget containing federal stimulus money.
Slightly more than $1.5 billion in federal cash was used to offset a $3.7 billion shortfall and restore many state health care, educational and public safety cuts Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had proposed in December.
Virginia also stands to get nearly $800 million in federal money it can use on highway maintenance or construction projects.
The House of Delegates had passed the budget on a 90-8 vote about an hour earlier, just ahead of the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment.
The budget restores many of the cuts to public schools and all of the cuts proposed for sheriffs and other local constitutional officers.
It not only restores 200 waivers allowing home care for the mentally disabled but increases it by 200 more.
But a closer look shows substantial pruning of many government services and its work force. State agencies generally take cuts of 5 percent to 7 percent on top of three other rounds of cuts.
State employees who remain will forgo pay raises at least through June 2010.
The restorations are possible because of the federal stimulus money, about $490 million from the state "rainy day" cash reserves and by financing some projects that had been paid with cash.
Opposition to the budget was almost exclusively Republican. Even as they denounced it as the largest federal spending spree in U.S. history that will burden generations to come with debt, 45 House Republicans voted for it.
"It’s curious that many Republicans here today are going to split with their brethren in Washington," said Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, one of seven House Republicans who opposed the bill and called it a "hit job on the American people."
Democrats cheered the stimulus largesse and its author, President Barack Obama, and the Democratic Congress for the stimulus package. The also praised Kaine, who is also the Democratic national chairman.
Del. Kenneth Plum, D-Fairfax, said the federal cash was "salvation" for the state.
"We may have saved as many as 7,000 state employee jobs," said House Democratic Leader Ward L. Armstrong.

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