- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2006

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The Senate and House of Delegates completed work yesterday on the state’s $29.4 billion budget, one week ahead of schedule and with almost no dissent.

Only two of 47 senators and five of 141 delegates voted against the final version of the budget that had been put together during negotiations Saturday by representatives of the two bodies. Legislative fiscal staffers could not remember when a budget had been completed so quickly.

Budget work was made easier this year by the fact that there was plenty of money to spread around.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Norman H. Conway noted that even with a spending increase of about 11 percent, the state still has $1.7 billion set aside for future budgets. The Democrat-controlled House and Senate cut about $179 million from the budget prepared by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Aid for public schools will increase by $458 million to $4.5 billion for fiscal 2007, which begins July 1. Colleges and universities will get a 13 percent increase. But the big boost in state aid.

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