Kaine amendments include $4 million for SRI

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SRI International would receive $4 million in state incentives under one of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s 41 proposed amendments to the General Assembly’s biennial budget.

The Menlo Park, Calif.,  research institute is opening its Center for Advanced Drug Research in Rockingham County. Kaine said the $4 million will allow SRI to recruit qualified researchers.

Kaine made other business-related amendments to the budget bill. He proposed $500,000 for the state’s secretary of health to start a pilot program in Hampton Roads to help provide insurance to low-income, uninsured employees of small businesses. The money matches dollar-for-dollar a private donation made to create the project.

Under the program, the employee and employer would each cover a third of the insurance premium while the program would pay for the additional third, up to $75 a month. Kaine had proposed $7.7 million for a similar statewide program in his budget, but it was scratched after budget negotiations.

Kaine’s amendments also changed language to require that new and renovated state buildings meet at least the base level standards of the LEED rating program of the U.S. Green Building Council or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Energy Star” rating system.

The General Assembly will meet April 23 to consider Kaine’s amendments and vetoes.

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