The Seattle Times: Senate passes Murray measure for Medicaid, teachers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning broke months of partisan standoff over massive aid to states, passing a key procedural vote on an amendment by Sen. Patty Murray that would funnel $26.1 billion for Medicaid and teacher funding.

For Washington state, the measure is expected to bring in $543 million – a combination of additional funding for public schools and extra matching money for Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance plan for the poor.

The measure passed 61-38, with two Republicans siding with all the Democrats. It now needs only a simple majority for final passage before the Senate recesses for the summer next week. Assuming the Senate approves the measure, it still has to go the U.S. House.

“I’m pretty confident … that the vote should be fairly positive in the House,” Murray said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’s now confident Washington will get the federal aid, which would essentially solve the state’s immediate budget problems and forestall further cuts. Gregoire had previously said she might have to call a special session of the Legislature or make across-the-board cuts to handle a budget shortfall.

Read the whole article >>