LITTLE ROCK — The state Senate today approved a $4.7 billion budget for next fiscal year but defeated a last-ditch effort to revive a measure to repeal a sales tax exemption for large trucks and trailers.

LITTLE ROCK — The state Senate today approved a $4.7 billion budget for next fiscal year but defeated a last-ditch effort to revive a measure to repeal a sales tax exemption for large trucks and trailers.

The House is to take up the budget Thursday, and possibly a bid to postpone rather than repeal the truck tax break, as lawmakers work toward completing the primary business of the fiscal session by Friday.

“It’s been an interesting day,” House Speaker Robert S. Moore Jr., D-Arkansas City, told reporters after the House adjourned.

The budget the Senate approved today is almost identical to Gov. Mike Beebe’s proposed budget for fiscal 2013, which includes an additional $56 million for public schools and a $114 million increase for Medicaid but keeps funding flat for most state agencies.

The budget is contained in matching House and Senate bills that would amend the Revenue Stabilization Act to set spending priorities for the next fiscal year. House Bill 1163 and Senate Bill 136 cleared the Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday morning in voice votes.

The Senate voted to suspend its rules today afternoon so it would not have to wait a day before voting on SB 136. The bill passed 24-9.

The House is expected to vote on SB 136 and HB 1163 Thursday.

The House and Senate must concur in each other’s versions of the bill before the budget can be sent to the governor for his signature.

Lawmakers hope to end the session’s business Friday and return a week later to make technical corrections and formally adjourn.

After passing the budget bill today, the Senate turned back an attempt to bring up a resolution that would allow the filing of a bill to repeal a $4 million sales tax exemption for large trucks and trailers.

Supporters of the resolution said the state Highway and Transportation Department will lose about $4 million annually if the tax break is left in place, which would mean less money for cities and counties for road repairs.

Members of the state Highway Commission and officials of the Arkansas Municipal League and Association of Arkansas Counties hovered outside the Senate chamber talking to lawmakers prior to the vote. Beebe also met privately with lawmakers in Senate offices in an effort to prod any who might be sitting on the fence.

“People have asked for my help and I’m trying to help,” Beebe said.

Still, the motion to suspend the Senate rules to allow a vote on the resolution received 21 yes votes and 12 no votes, falling short of the 24 votes it needed to pass.

Several senators who voted against the proposal said they did not want to consider budget matters during a fiscal session.

“That was a vote for me about extending the session,” said Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain Home. “I think that the taxpayers are ready for us to get our business done and go home.”

Lawmakers approved the tax break during the 2011 regular session in exchange for the trucking industry’s support of a 5-cents-per-gallon diesel tax increase to finance a $1.1 billion bond program for highway improvements. The Arkansas Trucking Association later asked the governor to hold off on calling for a special bond election, saying it lacked public support.

The association does not oppose repealing the tax break, which is scheduled to take effect July 1.

Beebe said he would ask the Legislature in 2013 to repeal the tax break if it does not happen during the fiscal session, though he acknowledged a repeal would be difficult to accomplish after the tax break goes into effect.

After the Senate vote today, the House, which previously passed a resolution to repeal the tax break, amended an appropriation bill for the state fiscal office to include a provision to postpone the effective date of the truck tax break until July 1, 2013.

House Bill 1114 goes back to the Joint Budget Committee for concurrence Thursday. If approved, it would then go back to the House for a vote later in the day and then get sent to the Senate for consideration Friday.

Rep. Buddy Lovell, D-Marked Tree, sponsor of the amendment, said it “lets the 89th General Assembly decide on the tax and diesel tax.”

The House speaker credited House Minority Leader John Burris, R-Harrison, with simplifying what originally had been a lengthy amendment by making the suggestion to roll the effective date back one year.

“This is a bipartisan idea here,” Moore said later, adding it is “not a repeal of the exemption that was put in place. “All we’re doing is deferring the effective date. In retrospect … we probably should have done this in the original bill.