By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis – The Missouri Senate has passed all 13 bills that make up next year's state budget.
The $23 billion spending plan restores cuts made last week to universities and colleges, and relies on still-unapproved federal dollars to fund the Career Ladder program, which pays K-through-12 teachers extra money for taking on extra duties.
But senators also voted to slice more than $450 million from next year's budget. Democrat Joan Bray of St. Louis says those cuts will hurt the needy:
"It really makes me just want to dispute anybody who says we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem we have a revenue problem," Bray said.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said many of the cuts would not be necessary if state leaders would not have given away millions in tax breaks.
"You heard all of the debate on Career Ladder, and Oh my gosh, what are we gonna do to fund Career Ladder? How do we fund Career Ladder?' Well, you take the Kansas City Chiefs' tax credits and you take the land assemblage tax credits and you've just paid for Career Ladder."
Governor Jay Nixon has called for cutting $500 million from the budget proposal he outlined in January.
House and Senate negotiators have until May 7th to craft and vote out the final version of the state budget.