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Budget standoffs are not without precedence in Virginia

Tim Kaine
J. Scott Applewhite
FILE - In this July 29, 2008, file photo Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine speaks to reporters in Washington.

Lawmakers ended the General Assembly session without passing a budget, and a final deal has yet to be struck.

The first budget standoff in Virginia was relatively recently, in 1998. And it's become increasingly common in recent years. The longest budget standoff was in 2006, when Governor Tim Kaine was trying to pass his first budget. Former Leader of the House Democrats David Toscano recounts the story in his new book, "Bellwether."

"We got into late June, and we didn't have a budget," Toscano says. "So, Kaine started exploring the possibility of basically taking over the government through executive order and running the Commonwealth without the imprimatur of a budget."

Kaine, who wrote the forward to Toscano's book, says he assumed that the threat of a governor running the show would be a better motivating force than the possibility of a government shutdown.

"You might think the reverse would be true, that the threat of a shutdown would help them get a deal. But my reasoning was a little bit different," he recalls. "It was like two Republican houses can't get a deal so the Democratic governor comes in to save the day and keeps the state government operating anyway. I did not think they would feel that that was a good look."

The gamble paid off. Lawmakers cut a deal at the last possible minute, only hours before the final deadline.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.