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Longest Short Session Produces Last-Minute Budget

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RALEIGH — The longest short session in North Carolina legislative history has finally produced a state budget. The possibility of losing federal money forced a breakthrough Wednesday night during negotiations at the Governor's Mansion.

Leaders of both houses hammered out major problems, agreeing on a bill to match more than $100 million in federal funds. Negotiators will meet Thursday and Friday to hammer out details on the $12 million budget.

House Speaker Harold Brubaker thinks the session will wrap up quickly. "Really, there are no major sticking points. These were the major issues that, frankly, were keeping us in session."

Observers say it will take at least another week, possibly longer, before a final budget is ready. There are eight committees involved in the negotiations.

Senator Mark Basnight says, "There are difficulties now still in front of us." In the Senate, education, children's programs and water quality issues may slow things down.

The session has lasted more than 230 working days, so far.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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