Senate passes $25.8 billion budget plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state Senate passed its version of next year's budget plan in a nearly unanimous vote Wednesday.

The budget proposal is highlighted by a three percent pay raise for state employees, extra funding for higher education to defray tuition increases, and a fully funded rainy day fund - the state's first.

The Senate approved the $ 28.5 billion budget on a 31-to-1 vote with Senator Mae Beavers of Mount Juliet the lone dissenter.

The budget combines federal and state spending. The House must approve its own plan, with differences worked out in conference committee before going to the governor to be signed into law.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)