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State senate OKs mid-year budget

ATLANTA - The Senate Thursday overwhelmingly approved a mid-year budget that includes new spending for water, health care and education.

But the 51-2 vote sets up a confrontation with the House over how and when to divvy up several education spending initiatives recommended by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

House and Senate Republican leaders do see eye to eye on $40 million the governor is proposing to build more reservoirs to protect Georgia against future droughts and $53 million for a planned statewide trauma care network.

But the two chambers have different plans for $40 million Perdue is requesting for technology improvements in Georgia schools and $25 million to buy more school buses.

The Senate took the money out of the mid-year budget, preferring to move the debate over prioritizing education spending from the mid-year budget into the upcoming review of the 2009 spending plan.

The House wants to keep the funds in the mid-year budget.

During Thursday's brief debate, senators rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, to restore $30.7 million in equalization grants to 16 suburban school districts.

Perdue cut those funds from his mid-year budget proposal, arguing that the equalization formula is growing too quickly and steering money toward districts that weren't intended to get huge equalization grants.

Jones' amendment would have adopted the House's position on those funds. The affected school districts include Gwinnett, Rockdale, Newton, Henry and Lee county schools.