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Budget Bills Advance As Legislature Begins Final Week

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A $6.9 billion general appropriations bill won unanimous approval in the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday and headed to the House for consideration.

The measure, vetoed six weeks ago by Gov. Brad Henry, is part of a $7.1 billion budget plan agreed to last week by the governor and legislative leader.

The agreement ended weeks of fighting over teacher pay and other budget issues.

As part of the agreement, the governor signed tax-cut legislation that will eliminate the franchise tax for most small businesses and implement a preschool sales tax holiday and a tax credit for stay-at-home parents. It also will accelerate a previously approved state income tax cut.

The Democratic governor sought a teacher pay increase of $1,100 to keep the state on a course to increase salaries to the regional average in five years. The GA bill he vetoed had money for only $600 in raises.

Henry's agreement with lawmakers calls for raises averaging $1,000, weighted to experienced teachers and those with advanced degrees.

The omnibus budget bill approved by the Senate included most of the money for the raises. The rest will come from surplus dollars after the Rainy Day Fund is filled to its constitutional limit.

Most state agencies are getting the same amount of money they got last year, plus money to fund the final three months of the state employee pay raise approved last year.

Scores of individual funding bills, most of them setting budget limitations, are moving through the legislative process as lawmakers shoot for an orderly adjournment by a 5 p.m. Friday deadline.

Related Stories:

3/19/2007 Agreement Will Keep Legislature On Track To Adjourn

3/22/2007 House Democrats Close Ranks With Governor In State Budget Spat

3/25/2007 Budget Spat Gives House Democrats Reason To Crow

3/26/2007 Governor Says Budget Process Flawed, Line-Item Vetoes Likely

3/28/2007 Governor Vetoes Bulk Of 2008 Spending Bill

4/10/2007 State House Democrats Call For Fresh Start In Budget Process

4/12/2007 Cargill Calls Budget Impasse 'Theater Of The Absurd'

4/15/2007 Governor Brad Henry Using Old Gubernatorial Tactic

4/19/2007 State House Passes Budget Bills, Governor Promises Veto

4/27/2007 Budget Impasse Continues With Veto Of State Agency Budget Bills

5/8/2007 Lawmakers At Impasse With Governor In Budget Talks

5/14/2007 Teacher Pay And Tax Cuts

5/21/2007 Governor Gets $160 Million For Programs
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