RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) – Lawmakers will return to Richmond in early April for a special session of the General Assembly, but the House and Senate are still at odds over the state budget. And the prospects for a quick conclusion appear to be slim.

The difference between the two spending plans approved by each chamber is $2.8 billion.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats have been unable to agree on how much of a record surplus should be returned to taxpayers, and how much should be used to shore up important programs.

One point of contention is Governor Youngkin’s proposal to suspend the state’s gas tax.

“We want to see that get done, because people are hurting,” said Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt Co.). “Prices have gone up everywhere and in every realm. And anything we can do to put money back in the pockets of the people is really important to us right now.”

“Funding from the gas tax is essential to fix our roads,” Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) countered. “It’s something that has been long overdue. We finally got it done in 2020. And it’s not excessive funding. It’s what we anticipated. And if you stop that progress, it’s going to be disastrous for Virginia’s business.”

What will happen Monday is anybody’s guess.

“I still don’t know where the magic buttons are that will allow us to reach a compromise,” said Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath Co.). “Now, it looks like we are so far apart, that it’s going to be very difficult to come up with an agreement, unless people are willing to make significant compromises.”

There are about 45 other bills that were also carried over from the regular session. Many of them are dependent on funding in the final budget.

One lawmaker told us it could be weeks, or perhaps months, before the differences are resolved.