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Friday, April 2, 2010 - 3:55am

Hospital Tax Passes Senate

The State Senate yesterday narrowly approved a controversial 1.45% hospital tax.

Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown would not support it.

He says, the Democrats were not part of the negotiations.

"This is a sick tax that is placed on people in hospitals," he says. "It has been forced on them by intimidation threatening to do something worse if you don't do that."

Without much Democratic support, Republican leaders in the Senate had to convince their colleagues to vote for the tax.

Many of them signed a "No Tax" pledge and have to run for re-election this year.

Senate President Pro Temp Tommy Williams explained that the money raised will draw down much needed federal funds for those hospitals.

"You may call that a tax increase where we're matching federal dollars," Williams told his Republican colleagues from the well. "But I call it a three-to-one match and give it to those hospitials that see the most Medicaid."

In the end, the measure passed with only two votes to spare.

It could add up to $167 million to next year’s budget.

Lawmakers are on a break next week and will return with only seven more days to pass a balanced budget.