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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown will join the trio of top budget writers in the North Carolina Senate for the next two years once the Legislature reconvenes next month.

Senate leader Phil Berger announced Wednesday the Jacksonville Republican would fill the Senate Appropriations Committee co-chairman position vacated by the retirement of Sen. Richard Stevens of Cary in September.

Berger said current appropriations co-chairmen Neal Hunt of Raleigh and Pete Brunstetter of Forsyth County will remain on the job.

The three senators are among the chief negotiators with the House and the governor in finalizing a spending plan for state government.

Berger said earlier this week he plans to reappoint Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville as chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee.

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