This week the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed a state budget plan of roughly $24 billion dollars. The plan, which is about $86 million less than the House version, now goes to the full Senate for more debate.
In the end, the committee kept funding for colleges flat while slightly boosting basic state aid for public school districts. The trade-off saw cuts to social services, including less money to state grants to preschools and less money to help low-income working parents with child care costs.
One controversial item in the budget was a health program to the blind. The House made a substantial cut in the program, while the Senate restored some of the money, but required participants to start paying deductibles and premiums.
After the Senate completes its work, the budget will go to a House-Senate Conference committee to resolve differences. Lawmakers must complete their work on next year’s budget by May 11th and submit it to the governor.