Lawmakers Trade Barbs Over Budget

By Jon Hardison | 

State lawmakers remain at odds over the latest version of the state budget passed by the House. The Democrat-controlled chamber passed a budget bill on Tuesday despite a unanimous "no" vote by Republican representatives.

Democrats say the bill puts $260 million more towards education then Governor Ernie Fletcher's original proposal, including bigger pay raises for teachers. Republicans claim that spending, along with other money allocations, will drive the state further into financial crisis.

Both parties agree tax code reform is needed to address a revenue shortfall that shows no signs of decreasing, but the Fletcher administration hasn't put a comprehensive plan forward yet.

The state Senate will take up its own budget plan by early next week. The current General Assembly session is 45 days old, with only 15 days to go.