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Senate approves $4.7B budget bill

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 29, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.

— The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved the state’s $4.7 billion budget as lawmakers worked to meet a self-imposed deadline to wrap up this year’s legislation session by the end of the week.

By a 24-9 vote, the Senate passed legislation outlining agency spending for the budget year that begins July 1. The measure heads to the House, where an identical version of the bill is pending.

The legislation is nearly identical to the budget proposed by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe in January. It calls for a $114 million increase in the Medicaid budget and $56 million more for public schools.

Work on the budget stalled last week after Republicans in the majority-Democrat Legislature pushed for more spending cuts. All of the votes against the budget measure came from Republicans.

Both versions of the budget bill easily cleared the Joint Budget Committee earlier Wednesday.

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