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Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 8:31pm

Lawmakers Have Eyes On Revenue Numbers

The General Assembly resumes today after two weeks of often controversial budget hearings.

State lawmakers will have their eyes on revenue numbers for February.

They will use those numbers to decide how to get out of a $1.1 billion dollar state shortfall.

This is an election for all state lawmakers and especially for Republicans. Senator Seth Harp (R - Midland), who is running for the office of Insurance Commissioner, has found the message from voters is clear.

"I’ve been out on the campaign trail and I can tell you very frankly what I hear wherever I go. Don’t raise taxes," he says.

But without more money to the state, analysts warn of dire cuts to Medicaid, public safety or higher education.

Lawmakers got a taste of reactions to deep cuts last week when they proposed to slash the budget of the Board of Regents.

Alan Essig is with Budget and Policy institute. His group advocates a new tax to get out of the budget crunch.

"The question we have to ask ourselves, at what point are those impacts worse than talking about tax increases so we can pay for those services," Essig said.

House Speaker David Ralston (R - Blue Ridge) has said as lawmakers continue to work on the budget everything, including more taxes and fees, is still on the table.