Thursday, May 04, 2006

School's out for summer

The Senate approved next year’s state budget at about 10 p.m. Thursday.

Leading up to the vote, Senate Republicans echoed the concerns heard in House debate one day prior. They cited record-high pension liabilities, Medicaid backlogs and fund diversions as reasons this budget would doom the state for year’s to come. They also said it’s a Democratic budget because it passed without one Republican vote.

Democrats defended the budget saying it's good for middle-class families and those who are left behind by federal programs, such as veterans. They also said this budget and another supporting measure will help doctors, pharmacists and long-term care facilities get reimbursed from the state quicker for caring for Medicaid patients. That’s true, but the best-case scenario would only reduce the payment cycle to an average of 55 days. Not too comforting for people waiting for thousands of dollars to pay their own bills.

In any case, both chambers adjourned until November 14 and wished everyone a happy, six-month summer.

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