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Legislature passes $18.6 billion budget for 2010
All Hall House members OK plan, which includes spending cuts of $1 billion
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The Georgia General Assembly has completed work on its one required item: the state budget.

The state Senate voted 47-4 tonight to approve the $18.6 billion spending plan. Earlier in the day, the House approved it by a vote of 137-41.

All members of Hall County's House legislative delegation voted for the bill.

The deal struck by budget writers on Friday taps federal stimulus dollars for more cash to pay for Medicaid, the health  insurance program for the poor. Enrollment in Medicaid has soared as the economy has worsened.

The budget, which covers the fiscal year that begins July 1, includes spending cuts of more than $1 billion. The Senate's top budget writer said agencies will see an average cut of about 8 percent.

Sen. Jack Hill said the spending plan contains "real pain" but that lawmakers did their best to soften the blow. They were helped by federal stimulus cash flowing from Washington.

The budget includes $31.2 million in bond funds for a new academic building at Gainesville State College and $16.4 million for a major face-lift for four buildings at North Georgia College and State University.

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