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After another long day of debate, the Assembly approved a package of bills aimed at ensuring California qualifies for up to $700 million in federal stimulus funds or schools.

The move comes just two weeks before the deadline for the state to submit applications for the Obama administration's Race to the Top competitive grants.

As we noted in today's AM Alert, an earlier version of the bill was split into two parts. The bill containing the bulk of the proposed changes, SBX5 1, passed 44-17. A second measure that contained provisions on open enrollment and the parent trigger option, SBX5 4, passed 41-27. (Click here to read both bills).

The Senate plans to take up the package tomorrow in the midst of the State of the State madness.

Though the Schwarzenegger camp had "serious concerns" with the drafts they were seeing last night, a statement released after the vote indicates the governor's on board with the latest plan.

"Today we have come together to pass sweeping education reforms to better our children's education, provide more choice for parents and make sure California is highly competitive for hundreds of millions in federal dollars for our schools," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I urge the Senate to pass this historic education reform package and ensure California can submit a highly competitive Race to the Top application to President Obama."

Here's a video of the governor discussing the importance of Race to the Top at a morning press conference at Rosa Parks Middle School:

Video by The Bee's Hector Amezcua.

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