The Missouri Senate’s budget committee relinquished all 13 bills to the main chamber Thursday night, choosing not to make specific cuts or increases to things like K-12 schools.
But the General Assembly is cutting the budget process close this year, and it’s a real possibility it won’t meet the 6 p.m., May 5, deadline to get the budget to Gov. Eric Greitens. If that’s the case, there’ll need to be a special session.
“All options are on the table,” Greitens' spokesman Parker Briden said, but he declined to give specific dates. The regular session ends May 12.
The budget that’s now to the Senate varies in parts from what the House passed two weeks ago, but the changes aren’t specific due to haggling over a controversial Senate bill that Republicans say would free up more money.
When it comes to K-12 schools, Republican Committee chairman Sen. Dan Brown of Rolla maintains that the House’s $45 million spending increase, which would fully fund schools, is too high. The Senate will decide on a range between $3 million and $45 million and will let a joint committee of House and Senate members pick the final number when budget negotiations begin later.
The Senate committee also tentatively trimmed funding for the state’s youth summer jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City from the $6 million that freshman Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, secured in the House’s budget to $1. Brown said the final number will be within that broad range.
Democratic Sen. Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis fought strongly against cutting funding for the program, which Greitens’ proposed budget doesn’t fund.
“We have a lot of teenagers who are eligible for summers jobs who can get the training that they need to get off welfare if they have training in terms of jobs and opportunities before they even go into the workforce,” she said.
The estimates are necessary, Brown said, because he and other Republican leaders hope to pass a separate bill that would shrink a tax credit that benefits older homeowners and renters, freeing up $52 million.
“We left the budget purposefully available so we could go either way in order to achieve what we hope happens,” he said.
The measure cuts the “circuit-breaker” tax break for renters, but is being blocked by Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans. The filibuster, which was launched this week, resulted in a marathon Senate session that began Tuesday evening and ended as the sun rose Wednesday.
A second filibuster over a managed care bill also ate up time on the Senate floor and caused some committee meetings, the budget one included, to be postponed and rescheduled.
The Senate’s budget committee also removed language that would have required the governor’s office to publicly file flight plans whenever Greitens or other elected officials use state-owned airplanes for travel, as well as language that would have barred college students with an “unlawful immigration status in the United States” from receiving in-state tuition and state-funded scholarships.
The Senate will resume Monday and tentatively plans to debate and pass the budget bills Wednesday. That timetable would only leave seven days for House and Senate negotiators to get the bill to Greitens.