Arizona Senate passes budget, Medicaid growth

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PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Senate has passed an $8.8 billion budget that includes expanded Medicaid access and marks a huge political victory for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.

The Senate voted Thursday to pass the budget and Brewer's contentious Medicaid proposal after a marathon week that saw Brewer call lawmakers into a surprise special session after months of stalled negotiations.

The House passed the proposals in the wee hours of Thursday morning following a 12-hour debate that exposed a fractured Republican majority. A coalition of moderate Republicans joined with all Democrats to force a vote on the budget and expand Medicaid to 300,000 more poor Arizonans.

Conservatives opposed Brewer's Medicaid plan. The expansion is optional under last year's Supreme Court decision upholding the federal health care law, and many Republican governors rejected it.

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