Virginia state budget dies in Senate

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The last version of the state budget died Wednesday in the Virginia Senate, throwing the state's fiscal future into limbo thanks to a lingering partisan feud.

On party line votes, the Senate's 20 ruling Republicans failed to win from the 20 unified Democrats the 21st vote necessary to pass legislation to appropriate money for state operations through mid-2014.

The dispute dates to a fight in January over the Democrats' demand that the Republicans share power with them in an evenly divided Senate. Republicans refused and used Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's contested tie-breaking vote to dominate Senate committees and chairmanships.

While Bolling has broken more than a dozen partisan tie votes this year, the Virginia Constitution forbids him from voting on revenue or appropriation bills.

Options remain for introducing a new budget, but senior lawmakers say it would be futile without a truce between Senate Democrats and Republicans.

On a vote 20-20, a budget bill that finishes out appropriations for the current fiscal year, ending June 30, was killed. The more important biennial budget bill for the two fiscal years that begin July 1 died on a 20-19 vote with Democrat Richard L. Saslaw not voting. But because the budget must achieve a majority of the 40 senators elected, the bill died despite a plurality.