Missouri Legislature
9:41 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

Budget, Student Transfers, Transportation Tax Fill Missouri Lawmakers' Plates This Week

Credit UPI/Bill Greenblatt

It'll be a busy week for Missouri lawmakers as they enter the homestretch of the 2014 regular session.

First, the Missouri Senate is scheduled this evening to begin debates on the 13 bills making up the state budget, and they may actually try to pass them all tonight, according to Appropriations chair Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.

"That doesn't mean that somebody, if they have a disagreement with one (budget) item, they're not going to want to spend some time on the floor on that issue," Schaefer said.  "It usually doesn't take all that long -- I'd better knock on wood, this may be the year it takes longer -- but at this point there's been so much time and effort by so many people that (the budget debate) usually goes a little quicker."

House and Senate leaders have to pass a final version of the state budget by May 9, one week before the end of the regular session.

The Senate is also scheduled this week to take up the one-cent transportation sales tax proposal. House Joint Resolution 68, upon voter approval, would enact a one-cent sales tax to fund state, county, and local transportation needs, and it would expire in 10 years unless renewed again by voters. While the bill passed the Missouri House earlier this month, the measure's Senate handler, Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, acknowledges that it will have a hard time making it through the Senate, if it makes it at all.

"There (are) rumors that a lot of amendments and ideas and offers will come out, whether that means lowering the one-cent (sales tax or) shortening the sunset (date)," Kehoe said.  "There (are) multiple little puzzle pieces that people have been talking about.... That's why I'd like to get it on the floor, flush out what all those ideas are, and see if there's any light to make a deal on this thing."

Fellow Republican John Lamping of Ladue led a filibuster of a similar proposal last year, and he's also expected to block this year's version of the transportation sales tax resolution.

The House, meanwhile, will likely take up the student transfer bill this week. That has been a top priority for lawmakers in both chambers and both parties.

"It's another difficult, complex issue, which is why we've been working with both sides of the aisle to try to reach a good piece of compromise legislation that gives every child in the state an access to a great education," said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

The 2014 regular session ends next month, on May 16.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport