Senators split on federal spending bill

Posted: Friday, August 06, 2010

JUNEAU - Alaska's U.S. senators have split on legislation that would extend increased federal support for Medicaid funding.

Democrat Mark Begich voted with the majority in supporting the measure, while Republican Lisa Murkowski opposed it.

The measure, which awaits a House vote, would provide $16 billion to help states fund their Medicaid budgets and $10 billion in emergency education aid aimed at avoiding mass layoffs.

States, including Alaska, face a Medicaid funding gap without a continuation of the increased federal support, first authorized last year.

Begich said the bill will save the state from putting $47 million more in general funds toward the program and allow it to focus on other priorities.

But Murkowski says the bill does a disservice to states, postponing when they'll have to make tough budget decisions.

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