TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas senators gave first-round approval Wednesday to their version of the next state budget, including language that would require legislative approval before the state could expand Medicaid coverage.

The bill, which would spend $14 billion in each of the next two fiscal years, was debated for more than five hours. Final action is set for Thursday, which would set the stage for negotiators to work out differences with the House over spending.

"We always have to weigh the decisions. We really are weighing priorities through this," said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican.

Senators included a provision in the budget bill that leaves open the possibility of Kansas taking a federal offer to expand Medicaid health care coverage, but only if legislators give Republican Gov. Sam Brownback their consent. Brownback has opposed the federal health care act but has said his administration was looking at all options.

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