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      Tobacco money may fund economic development

      The Michigan Senate has voted to continue using $75 million a year from the state's settlement with tobacco companies and putting it into an economic development fund.

      Current law provides money for the 21st Century Jobs Trust Fund through the 2015-16 budget year. Legislation, approved 33-4 by the Republican-led Senate on Thursday, would provide $75 million a year for three additional years.

      The eight-year-old fund aims to encourage economic diversification and high-tech job creation in the life sciences, advanced manufacturing and defense industries.

      Michigan lawmakers in 2005 approved selling part of the state's tobacco settlement to gain one billion dollars to invest in up-and-coming industries. Critics question if enough jobs have been created.

      The bill now goes to the House.