[Education and Welfare] Schaefer's focus is on education in Senate budget
dhuff at moblind.org
Sun Mar 25 16:16:34 CDT 2012
Schaefer's focus is on education in Senate budget
Sunday, March 25, 2012
The Senate budget plan will focus available general revenue on education
even as questions are raised about how much money lawmakers will
have to work with, Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer said.
The $24 billion budget passed by the House last week altered Gov. Jay
Nixon's original proposal by shifting more than $69 million in general
state colleges and universities. Nixon publicly campaigned against the
biggest shift, which moved $28 million from a state medical program that
2,858 blind people, and he privately lobbied several GOP House members to
oppose the cut.
Schaefer, R-Columbia, said Friday that he has not been contacted directly by
Nixon, but that Budget Director Linda Luebbering asked for the Senate to
the medical program. "My position at this point is that I don't know,"
Schaeffer said. "We are going to look at it; we are going to look at
In a budget year like this, the worst budget year we have seen in modern
times, everything is on the table."
Although general revenue - the portion of the state budget where Nixon and
lawmakers have the greatest discretion - has increased in the past two
it has not returned to pre-recession levels. Nixon's original budget
proposal was balanced by Medicaid changes, cuts to higher education and
measures that covered a $500 million hole. Nixon moved $198 million in
general revenue into public schools, for example, to replace federal
The House budget reversed Nixon's cuts to higher education. And Schaefer,
who will need a happy University of Missouri constituency as he faces state
Mary Still, D-Columbia, in this year's election, said he's not inclined to
change that decision. "I have had a lot of discussions with" House Budget
Chairman Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, Schaefer said. "One thing this budget
is going to demonstrate is that education is a top priority for the state of
But maintaining House funding levels for higher education might face bigger
problems than pressure from Nixon to restore the blind medical program.
Last week, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, vowed to block all
legislation that generates one-time revenue. He's demanding tax credit and
and said because this is his last year in office, he will get them, or bills
that generate money already counted in the House spending plan will not
The biggest of those measures would generate $70 million through a tax
amnesty combined with more vigorous collection efforts. "I am going to
I believe are realistic numbers," Schaefer said. "Part of that assessment
will include the legislation needed."
Nixon's lobbying effort with several House Republicans, although it didn't
pay off in votes against the budget bill cutting the blind medical program,
signal that he's ready to engage lawmakers.
That lobbying, which took place after the House finished amending the
spending bills, would have thrown the budget process into chaos if it had
Silvey said. "Clearly, if the governor was actually interested in restoring
the funding rather than using it as a campaign tool, he would have engaged
earlier in the process with the people who had the ability to make those
decisions," Silvey said.
State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, had amendments prepared that would have
moved money from public schools, higher education and the Office of
to restore the blind medical program. He did not offer any of those
amendments. House members didn't like cutting education, and Nixon's office
like cutting the Office of Administration, Kelly said.
"I ran all the traps very hard on it and I could find no votes and it was
clear I wasn't going to pass it," Kelly said.
Reach Rudi Keller at 573-815-1709 or e-mail
rkeller at columbiatribune.com.
Denny Huff- President
Missouri Council of the Blind
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