‘One 11-Mile Railroad’ Derails Virginia Budget

Virginia’s budget was shunted onto a siding once again yesterday as Democrats in the state Senate voted to reject the third proposed state budget plan because it lacked funding for Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport. The plan may come up again today.

“It is completely irresponsible to hold up the budget of Virginia that serves 8 million people for one earmark, for one 11-mile railroad in one area of the state,” said Gov. Robert McDonnell at a news conference.

The budget plan failed 20-19 in the Senate, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, after easily passing the Republican-dominated House.

The impasse means that the state could face a partial government shutdown on July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said it had already notified contractors that they should plan to stop work by May 1, bringing road, bridge and tunnel projects to a halt just as the summer highway repair season would normally be getting underway.

The Dulles Metrorail extension has turned into a political football, with liberals trying to require that union contractors get preference and conservatives condemning the project as wasteful and unnecessary.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.