McCoy Releases Budget Plan

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A House budget unveiled Tuesday would fully fund education and state employees' health insurance while using some of Gov. Haley Barbour's spending suggestions for Medicaid and prisons. The plan also would increase fees by $17.6 million.

House Speaker Billy McCoy said he expects his chamber's budget to receive a committee vote Wednesday and possibly a vote of the full House on Thursday.

McCoy said he expects that by the end of the session in early May, leaders from the House and Senate will work with Barbour to reach a compromise budget.

Barbour was in Washington for a national governors' meeting and wasn't immediately available for comment. He said last week that he wanted to study the House plan but he opposed raising fees.

McCoy said the House plan would inject $673 million into the anemic state budget. He says the money would come from several sources, including increasing costs for licenses and similar fees, using the annual payment from a tobacco lawsuit settlement and raising the revenue estimate, a technical move based on optimism that the economy will perk up.