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Indiana Budget Talks Underway

A conference committee of Indiana House and Senate lawmakers has begun budget negotiations as a June 30 deadline approaches to enact a new spending plan.The talks began Wednesday morning during a public meeting that included testimony from some university presidents. Their appearance was orchestrated by House Democrats who say they're being pressured to accept a budget proposal passed by the Republican-led Senate and backed by Governor Mitch Daniels.Democratic Representative Scott Pelath defended the process."This may be easy to question why we're doing that right now, but essentially folks in my caucus have been told take it or leave it, with the Senate plan. So we have to take some time to figure out whether we're going to take it or leave it, and that's kind of where we are right now," Pelath said.Governor Daniels has been touring southern Indiana in support of the GOP budget plan. He says the Democratic version would spend too heavily. Daniels will make an appearance in New Albany Thursday.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.