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Budget committees reveal proposals

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The House of Delegates and Senate money committees released competing budget proposals Sunday that make significant cuts to public education and health and human services.

Both proposals would restore much of the funding for public safety that was cut under former Gov. Tim Kaine’s budget and spare higher education from further cuts. Both plans also reduce state payments to the Virginia Retirement System, the retirement plan for state workers.

Both plans call for reinstating the $950 million contribution by the state to offset the car tax, which required the committees to find $2.3 billion in additional cuts to those proposed by Kaine. The full houses will vote on the proposals Thursday.

The plans clash on how much to cut from health and human services, whether to raise fees and increase furlough days for state employees.

The House Appropriation Committee’s plan cuts $1.5 billion. The Senate Finance Committee’s plan would cut $700 million because of $500 million in reduced payments to the VRS.

In the House plan, public education would receive $620 million in cuts, which would be mitigated by reduced VRS payments from localities by $270 million a year. The plan would increase class size by one student and eliminate a secondary planning period for teachers. The Senate would cut $133 million from education, mostly by delaying accrediting standards and reducing some testing.

The House version would include no furlough days for state workers and provide a 3 percent Christmas bonus in 2011. The Senate includes six furlough days and also provides a 2011 bonus.

The House plan calls for $200 million in cuts to health and human services, coming mostly from Medicaid reimbursements and tighter eligibility requirements for Medicaid and FAMIS, which provides health insurance for children of low-income, working parents. The Senate would slash $344 million from the category, reducing Medicaid reimbursements and tightening eligibility standards for Medicaid.

The Senate plan includes $145 million in fees proposed by Kaine and another $100 million in fees.


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