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Senate budget deal swaps family planning money for job cuts

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HELENA — A bipartisan budget deal is restoring federal family planning money sought by Democrats and giving Republicans a permanent cut of 500 vacant state jobs.

The Montana Senate is finalizing the state's main $9 billion budget bill that spends a combination of state and federal money. It covers services big and small: schools, driver's licensing, Medicaid, law enforcement and much more.

Lawmakers huddled for two hours to start Saturday trying to reach a deal on two contentious issues.

It produced a compromise that restores about $5 million of federal family planning for health clinics. The item is a priority for Democrats.

In exchange, some Democrats backed a Republican move to permanently cut 500 state jobs that are vacant. The GOP says the move will limit the growth in government.

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