Virginia Senate panel advances state budget

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Senate Finance Committee has advanced a new state budget without Medicaid expansion - a major step toward ending a months-long stalemate.

The two-year, $96 billion spending plan now goes to the Senate and House of Delegates floors Thursday. Lawmakers hope to get the budget on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's desk in time to avoid a possible government shutdown after the current budget expires June 30.

Because of lagging revenues, legislators are slashing spending and tapping into the state's savings account to close a budget shortfall approaching $1.6 billion.

The budget stalemate was caused by a disagreement between Democrats backing McAuliffe's plan to expand Medicaid and Republicans who oppose the plan. The logjam broke when Democratic Sen. Phil Puckett resigned, giving Republicans a one-seat advantage in the Senate.


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