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Lawmakers Get Early Start To Work On Budget

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State lawmakers will convene a little early Monday in hopes of getting closer to passing a budget.

The goal is to finish the budget so lawmakers can adjourn in early July.

Trying to balance demands by educators and advocates for the mentally ill, the House's main budget panel on Friday approved a $15.8 billion spending plan for next year, setting the stage for a floor vote Monday night.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee took seven hours and waded through nearly 40 proposed amendments to subcommittee reports that were issued last Thursday before they agreed to the measure.

With little extra money to toss around and a power-sharing arrangement with co-speakers, the bill passed the House's largest panel without opposition.

Among the items expected to be debated Monday will be a flat $1,000 raise for state workers, reducing class size and raising Medicaid funding.

The measure spends about $12 million less than what Gov. Mike Easley proposed. Both the governor's proposal and the House budget increase spending about $350 million over the plan approved last year.

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