CHICAGO - Michigan lawmakers late last week gave Gov. John Engler the Christmas present he was waiting for - passage of a plan to finance schools in the wake of a state law that eliminates more than $6 billion of school operating property taxes next year.

In a marathon session that began Thursday and ended Friday at noon, the House and Senate passed a two-part plan that would raise about $10.1 billion a year for elementary and secondary schools. The first part of the plan is a proposal that would be placed before voters March 15, and the second is a statutory plan that lawmakers could put into place if the ballot measure fails.

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