The North Carolina Senate has agreed along party lines to a $20 billion budget bill for next year that Republican plan authors say puts the state on stronger fiscal footing but Democrats derided as sending the wrong message on education.
The Senate gave tentative approval Wednesday to the measure, which would spend $466 million more than last year but several hundred million dollars less than what Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue wants for the coming year.
GOP members rejected several Democratic amendments, including those that would have delayed the proposed collection of new tolls on ferry routes and given more money for a longtime teacher recruitment program. The bill contains no new taxes.
The Senate needs one more vote Thursday before negotiations with House budget-writers officially begin.