Miller says no signs of budget progress yet

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said as of 1 p.m. Saturday there are no signs of a breakthrough that would allow Senate and House negotiators to get together again to hammer out final detail of a budget for next  year.

A holdup in the budget talks -- apparently related to the issue of casino gambling -- has raised the possibility that the General Assembly will not complete a budget by its deadline Monday at midnight and that it could be forced into an extended session.

A scheduled meeting of the conference committees on budget-related bills Saturday morning was canceled. House sources said the Senate called off the meeting but Miller denied it, saying the Senate hasn't canceled it.

"We couldn't get a reply to our counter-offer," Miller complained. "You  can't bid against yourself."

Miller said he didn't know whether the legislature could achieve a budget resolution without agreeing on a gambling expansion. He said the gambling bill has a revenue component that could fit into the budget discussion.




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