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Senate Budget Bill Takes Another Step Forward

April 14, 2009

The Senate Republican budget plan took another step forward last night, after clearing its first hurdle on the Senate floor. Senate Democrats offered several amendments, all of which failed. They included changes to the school funding formula to use more federal stimulus money in low income schools and restricting how the budget agency distributes money approved by the General Assembly. Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Vi Simpson of Elletsville said while it’s common for minority party amendments to be voted down, her caucus was trying to raise certain issues.

“The big issue on this bill is not the bottom line. We all know the limitations we have to live under. The big issue is, perhaps, philosophical, about who are winners and who are the losers in how that money gets distributed to the schools.”

Of the amendments that were approved was one from Republican Senator Brent Waltz of Greenwood. That change would create a Department of Child Services ombudsman, to oversee an agency that in his words is quote “woefully understaffed.” The budget’s next deadline is a final vote in the Senate by Wednesday. It’s next stop will be conference committee, where lawmakers from both the Senate and the House will hash out a final plan.

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