SALT LAKE CITY – The Legislature passed a key budget bill Tuesday, adding back all but 1 percent of the 7 percent in cuts made earlier in the session.

SB2, sponsored by Senate Budget Chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, was approved by both the Senate and the House and now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his action on the estimated $12 billion spending plan.

Some areas of state government including higher education will see spending sliced by 2 percent or more, but public education emerged not only intact but with additional funds for enrollment growth.

There was little or no discussion of the budget in the House or Senate since the GOP majority had signed off in closed caucuses on the proposed changes to the base budget.

Although the bill passed with no opposition in the Senate, the House vote was 60-10, with a number of the Democratic minority opposed.

Lawmakers still have several key financial issues to settle before the session ends at midnight on Thursday, including whether to bond for new buildings and additional money for housing prison inmates.

House leaders said Tuesday it now appears the Legislature will need to find nearly $12 million to pay for housing at the prison and local jails to avoid the early release of several hundred inmates and the layoffs of some 75 corrections employees.

Lisa Riley Roche