[Education and Welfare] Missouri budget talks continue after filibuster
dhuff at moblind.org
Tue Apr 24 14:37:42 CDT 2012
. The Missouri Senate is continuing budget negotiations today after a group
of key senators followed through with earlier threats and hijacked
Monday's debate with a filibuster - stretching discussions to midnight.
The Senate returned this morning, but almost immediately moved to "stand at
recess" so negotiations could continue off the floor.
Lawmakers are trying to craft the state's $24 billion spending plan for the
coming year, but several senators say they oppose proposals laid out by the
House and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Among their concerns, the senators say the budget proposals do not include
enough cuts and rely too heavily on one-time money. They also took issue
a plan to cut a health care program for blind Missourians in favor of
funding higher education, a proposal to spend $1 million on a port in
and the Legislature's resistance to tax reform.
"Blind people are getting cut but there's not one tax credit that's been
reduced - in fact they're growing at 19 percent," said Sen. Jason Crowell,
After Crowell and others held up the debate for four hours - discussing term
limits, spending priorities and their issues with the House - senators went
into closed-door negotiations late Monday, trying to resolve issues and move
the budget forward.
Senators had earlier indicated that they would stay late into the evening to
air their grievances.
"I was storing my energy for this week," Crowell said. "We'll be here a
Sen. Jim Lembke, a Republican from Lemay who was one of the leaders of the
filibuster, said he thinks that budget writers are being too optimistic with
"We've never seen the type of growth we're projecting in the lottery," he
said. "We are not being honest with the people of Missouri."
The Senate Appropriations Committee proposed swapping out lottery money that
would have gone to higher education for money from the general fund. Under
that plan, the lottery money would then go to K-12 education, which has to
be funded at a state-mandated level. The senators argued that the plan would
require K-12 to come back for more money later in the year when lottery
funds are below expectations.
Crowell said he thinks budget writers have been pandering to special
interest groups and campaign donors to win favor in the upcoming elections.
"This is a game," he said. "The people of Missouri deserve better."
Crowell said the budget as presented was too optimistic - spending more than
the state has.
"Witholds are coming," he said. "The question becomes: 'Do you want to make
those decisions or do you want to leave it to the governor?'"
Lawmakers face a May 11 deadline for the budget. It takes effect July 1.
Elizabeth Crisp covers Missouri politics.
Denny Huff- President
Missouri Council of the Blind
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