What was, for the most part, a day of peaceful debate on the budget turned somewhat contentious when Senator Frank Barnitz of Lake Spring offered an amendment to one of the budget bills. It was a proposal to have lawmakers strip themselves of their health care benefits to put the savings back into the general revenue fund to pay for some of the budget cuts. Senator Chuck Gross of St. Charles didn’t appreciate what he saw as a political stunt and said so. After about an hour of discussion Barnitz, with the urging of both Democrats and Republicans, withdrew his amendment. Nine of the thirteen budget bills were approved on Day One. They included bills dealing with the Departments of Education, Higher Education, Transportation, Natural Resource, and Agriculture. Four more are scheduled to be debated today. They include the controversial Health, Mental Health, and Social Services budgets.
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