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Republicans Resolve House-Senate Earmark War

House and Senate Republican leaders settled their differences over earmarks in a $31 billion state budget during a conference committee Friday night, leaving the two chambers to meet Monday and sign off on the deal would end the 107th General Assembly.
Democrats vowed to file an alternative plan to the Republican agreement that would provide more money to community colleges.
The House-Senate conference committee was set up late Friday after the Senate on Friday morning passed a budget plan in substantial conflict over earmarks with the House version adopted Thursday.
The House had cut about $1.8 million in special projects that had been approved by the Senate Finance Committee. In retaliation, the Senate voted to cut another $22 million in House-approved projects – the largest being $12 million to complete a West Tennessee Megasite. The Senate cuts also included $4 million for spending related Lambuth University in Jackson, a private school that has been made a branch of the University of Memphis.
“That was one of the slickest threats I ever heard in my life,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner told Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris at one point.

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