House Passes Budget Plan

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House Speaker Billy McCoy says the plan would fully fund public education and state employees' health insurance.

The plan includes fee increases of $17.6 million, including a $5.00 increase on specialty car tags, an increase in fees the state auditor charges local governments and higher fees for environmental permits.

Before the 94 to 28 vote, House Education Chairman Randy "Bubba'' Pierce urged the representatives to support the bill.

Pierce said he had dozens of letters from schoolchildren whose programs could be cut if the Legislature doesn't adopt a plan to make up a $161 million projected shortfall for K through 12.

Gov. Haley Barbour has said he opposes any new state fees, but on Tuesday his spokesman said the governor wanted to study the House budget proposal. The bill goes to the Senate for consideration.