GARY D. ROBERTSON
RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- 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 $200 million more than last year but hundreds of millions of dollars less than what Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue wants.
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.
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