The state's proposed $5.8 billion budget for its fiscal year that starts July 1 is hung up over whether to add money for schools or cut rising unemployment taxes for businesses.
The Senate budget would split money added by growth in the state's economy -- with $100 million paying for business tax relief and $105 million paying for K-12 education.
House members want $150 million in tax relief for businesses. Their insurance rates rose to start repaying almost $1 billion in federal loans that the state had to take out in order to continue paying unemployment benefits after the state's unemployment insurance fund went broke in 2008. For some companies, taxes increased by as much as 600 percent per employee, and companies have said the tax hike might cause them to delay hiring.
House and Senate budget negotiators are meeting to work out a final budget agreement.
State Rep. Dan Cooper, R-Anderson, the House's top budget writer, says the debate over spending on education or tax relief is the biggest remaining issue. An agreement could be worked out this week, he added.
-- John O'Connor