Budget hearings begin in the Mo. Senate | St. Louis Public Radio

Budget hearings begin in the Mo. Senate

Jan 18, 2011

A Missouri Senate committee is receiving budget requests this week from agencies and non-profit groups as lawmakers prepare to craft the state's spending plan for next year.

Several groups appeared today before the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking that funding for the Department of Social Services be raised, or at least not cut any further.

Audrey Johanns, a small business owner in Jefferson City, asked committee members to help working parents who can't afford child care.

"I gave one of my star employees a raise," Johanns told the committee.  "She took home an extra $150 in her paycheck, but she lost $300 in childcare assistance (because of the raise)."

Lawmakers and Governor Jay Nixon are anticipating another budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.  However, the latest revenue estimate shows modest growth in state revenues.

Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He says the increase in state revenue is misleading.

"While we may have a little bit of an uptick in general revenue, we really don't have as much money," Schaefer said.  "The (budget) gap is still bigger than in previous years, because we (won't) have that federal money (we've had) for the last two years."

Schaefer says he's expecting a budget deficit between $300 and $500 million for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins in July.

Governor Nixon is scheduled to announce his proposed state budget tomorrow night during his annual State of the State Address, which will be aired live at 7:00 p.m. on St. Louis Public Radio.