The Associated Press March 16, 2012, 3:03PM ET

Idaho House approves higher education budget

The Idaho House is backing a budget that increases state support for Idaho's public universities by $18.1 million in 2013.

Lawmakers voted 58-9 Friday to approve the plan, which includes a 2 percent salary increase for employees.

State spending on higher education has declined 26 percent amid the economic downturn. Democratic Rep. Shirley Ringo voted for the increased 2013 budget after comparing it to giving a peanut butter sandwich to someone who's been undernourished for some time.

Ringo said she wished the state could do more.

Republican Rep. Lenore Barrett was among a handful of lawmakers who voted against plan. Barrett said she wasn't as optimistic that Idaho "was better off" as the budget suggested and also, she disagreed with critics who say lawmakers weren't doing enough for education.

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