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Democratic leaders met in secret to try to reach a budget agreement

Democratic legislative leaders met secretly Wednesday to try and hammer out an agreement on the new state budget.

Gov. Jim Doyle says the budget needs to be signed by next Wednesday or else the state would miss deadlines to qualify for certain federal funds.

Tuesday, Doyle ordered both houses into a special session this afternoon to pass a separate expansion of the hospital tax to include ambulatory surgery centers.

He said it needed to be signed by Monday in order the state to get an extra $74 million in federal Medicaid money, and to save $26 million of the state's Medicaid dollars.

But Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said he would not call his house into session to pass the hospital tax today.

He said he would refer the idea to the Joint Finance Committee, and he remained confident the budget could be finished in a week.

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan said lawmakers were "well-positioned" to pass the budget on time.

But Republicans had their doubts.

Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald said there are still 189 differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the budget and "the train has come off the tracks."