The Finance Secretary has been urged to revisit his spending plans and plough more money into key areas of housing and further education.
Opposition MSPs said John Swinney's budget failed to live up to its billing as a blueprint for jobs and growth. Holyrood was debating the first of three stages needed to pass the Scottish Government's Budget Bill, which sets out how money will be spent in 2013-14.
Mr Swinney said: "I believe that this budget provides a bold and ambitious programme of investment in our people and infrastructure, in the context of the most challenging financial environment that Scotland has faced since devolution.
"The Government has taken decisions to prioritise employability and economic recovery, to build for the future and to ensure that our public services are supported in the years to come."
The total budget, which amounts to about £28.6 billion, will "accelerate economic recovery" in the face of Westminster constraints, he said.
Mr Swinney set out his initial spending priorities for the budget in a statement to MSPs in September last year. He identified £40 million for "affordable housing", a new energy skills academy and an employer recruitment scheme designed to help create up to 10,000 jobs for young people.
Labour wants the Government to reverse a £35 million college cut, invest extra UK cash in housing and reinstate the "full scope" of rail improvements between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Conservatives repeated a call to take Scottish Water out of public hands and the Liberal Democrats demanded an extension to free nursery provision.
Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: "This is a Scottish Government under pressure when it has come to this year's budget. On the day that the budget was launched, there was almost nobody that accepted the Scottish Government`s argument that it was a budget for the economy.
"This included the Finance Committee, which failed to support a proposition that this was a budget that genuinely prioritised the economy."