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GOP will fight budget boosts

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, announced yesterday that Republican legislators will resist efforts to pad the state budget and will support belt tightening for the House itself. 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the House will take steps to save $1.1 million, about 15 percent of the chamber’s operating expenses. Plans to cut expenses include: suspending use of the state plane for weekend travel home by delegates who live in Southwest Virginia; “dramatically reducing” the number of delegates and staff members who are reimbursed for attending regional and national legislative conferences; cutting more than a half dozen support positions; and reducing costs for printing and office supplies.

Howell said House Republicans also plan to maintain delegates’ annual salaries and maintain the current per-diem rate.

The House’s announcement comes as Gov. Timothy M. Kaine prepares address the legislature’s money committees on the scope of the state’s budget shortfall. Options on how to deal with the deficit include layoffs of more of the state’s 100,000 employees and cuts to education and health care.

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