- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Here are some takeaways from the 2015 fiscal year general fund budget given initial approval by the Vermont Senate on Monday:

- It’s $1.438 billion, up 3.7 percent from spending in the current fiscal year.

- It’s one piece of a pie that, including transportation and education spending, is slated to total $5.5 billion in spending of state money and federal aid.

- It keeps funding for the University of Vermont and state colleges the same, while using $400,000 in new money they were going to get to instead help kids otherwise deemed unlikely to pursue higher education.

- If there’s enough of a budget surplus, it devotes $5 million for new business-development incentives.

- It boosts payments for health care providers serving Medicaid beneficiaries by 2 percent, rather than the 0.75 percent approved by the House.

What’s next: The budget is up for final approval Tuesday in the Senate. It the House doesn’t concur, a conference committee of three members from each chamber will work out differences before final approval again by House and Senate. The bill then goes to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is expected to sign a budget from a Legislature controlled by his fellow Democrats.

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