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Wide support for budget in Senate vote

Working until early this evening, the Senate heard, discussed, and passed a $10.6 billion budget package first in committee and then on a vote of the entire Senate.

The bills were heavily amended June 18 to reflect an accord reached by legislative leaders last week. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bills June 19.

The budget approved by the Senate is largely the same as one approved by that chamber in May. The bills received more than 20 votes each, as both Republicans and Democrats supported the deal.

“We got our work done more quickly than we anticipated,” Senate President Tim Bee said after the session. He said he expects the House to be working on the budget tomorrow.

Bee said he would be talking to House Speaker Jim Weiers tonight about a possible vote.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Minority Leader Marsha Arzberger hailed the proposal as a victory for Republicans and Democrats and the public.

“They like the budget and we were sort of all together. The team was working,” she said.

Senators voted on a 2.3-percent increase in spending compared to the current budget.

The budget deal contains $4.36 billion for K-12 education, $1.1 billion for universities, and $533 million for new schools.

The K-12 education package includes $46 million for teachers’ pay hike and $68 million for state employees’ salary and performance pay increases.

Senate leaders had touted the budget as fiscally conservative and as having no gimmicks to balance it. Both Bee and Arzberger said all sides made concessions during the negotiations. The governor’s office, which was involved in the negotiations, is expected to sign the budget.

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