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Arizona Senate begins debating $8.8B budget

Bob Christie and Cristina Silva, Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Senate has begun debating an $8.8 billion state budget proposal drafted by majority Republicans.

Democrats scored a major victory when a handful of Republicans joined them to add $9 million to the Child Protective Services budget. They also got money for Native American education, parks and the arts.

In all, nearly $70 million in additional spending is included in floor amendments being offered by Republicans alone in the 10 budget bills being debated Thursday.

The biggest amendment is one that expands Medicaid to an additional 300,000 poor Arizonans. That will be offered in the last bill of the day.

The budget will move to the House when it is adopted by the Senate.