MADRID – Pro-independence lawmakers in Spain's powerful northeastern Catalonia region have approved a 2017 budget that guarantees funds for a referendum on secession despite warnings from legal advisers that such a vote would be unconstitutional.
Catalonia and Spain have been at loggerheads for years because of the regional government's plans to hold an independence vote, contrary to the country's constitution.
The Catalan government pledges to hold a binding referendum by the end of September.
The budget vote Wednesday came as a fourth Catalan politician was temporarily banned from public office for disobeying Constitutional Court orders by helping organize a mock secession referendum in 2014.
Polls consistently show the 7.5 million Catalans are evenly divided on independence, but a majority supports a referendum.