Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Delegate Keam interviewed on local TV

CBS-6, a local television news station, interviewed Delegate Keam about the status of the budget. In this video clip (and quoted below), Delegate Keam argues for more funding for public education and healthcare programs.,0,1011787.story

Can They Finish in Time?

State Lawmakers weigh in on whether they can reach an agreement on the budget before the session ends and prevent an expensive extended session.

Sam Brock Staff reporter

February 26, 2010

CAPITOL SQUARE - The clock is ticking. Lawmakers have to figure out how to balance a budget with a $2 billion shortfall and they only have about two weeks left to do it.

If they don't, the state is going to end up spending money it doesn't have on an extended session.

The lawmakers we talked to say they have every intention of finishing on time. Democratic Senator Edward Houck of Spotsylvania says, "If we have to work long hours, which it could mean, through the night in some occasions, I think we have a responsibility to finish on the date this session is supposed to end."

Sen. Houck is a major player in budget negotiations who believes the General Assembly can meet its March 13 deadline.

If lawmakers don't meet that deadline, it will end up costing taxpayers.

The House Clerk estimates the first day of an extra session will cost $25,000 for just the first day, a full week would cost around $80,000 just for the House of Delegates.

Republican Delegate Morgan Griffith also feels they can meet the deadline. He says, "I would expect it to get resolved on time. There are some big questions, not necessarily on the spending, but how you get the money."

Key questions about whether to minimize cuts to eduction or health care create the biggest barrier to combining the House and Senate versions of the budget.

Freshman Delegate Mark Keam voted against the house budget and wants to see funding for both areas bolstered a lot.

The Democrat from Vienna says, "At the end of the day, this is Step one in a long process of budget reconciliation. My sending a 'No' vote, hopefully, will send a message to the conferees- we really have to come back with a better product."

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