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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Virginia Budget Stalls Millions to Spaceport

Senate kills budget compromise
For the third time this year, the Virginia state budget for the next two years has died in the Senate, risking shutdown of state government operations, forcing local governments into budget standstills, and placing at-risk millions in new Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport funding to expand operations for commercial space launch operations in the years ahead.

The conference report on the $85 billion spending bill five months in the making died on a 20-19 vote late Tuesday after Democrats balked in a dispute over funding for a high-priority Capital Beltway transit project. It was a party-line vote, with 20 Republicans voting for it; 19 Democrats against it. But because it failed to achieve the necessary majority — 21 votes — the bill does not pass.

The defeated budget would have authorized $7.5 million in Transportation Trust Fund revenues each year for operational and maintenance needs of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority on Wallops Island. It also includes language for a launch pad purchase and fueling improvements to the state can better market the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

The Senate recessed until Wednesday rather an adjourned, preserving the opportunity to reconsider and perhaps pass the spending plan at that time. The Senate needs one of the twenty dissenting Senators to adopt a budget.

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