Missouri Senate passes state budget, restores blind pensions
The Missouri Senate passed a $24 billion state budget early this morning, following several hours of debate and closed-door negotiations.
The Senate spending plan for FY2013 directly challenges the Missouri House's position on blind pensions. By a narrow margin, Senators restored $28 million in state funding cut by the House last month, while leaving in $18 million in federal Medicaid dollars. Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says they now have more room to maneuver when negotiations with the House begin on the final version of the budget.
“We’ll go back and total up the numbers, obviously, for the Senators that wanted to cut (general revenue) out of everything," Schaefer said. "We found a reasonable way to make blind health care more self-sufficient without general revenue.”
Senators also narrowly defeated an attempt to remove a two percent pay raise for state workers earning less than $45,000 a year.
Several Senators who took part in a filibuster this week voted “no” on most of the budget bills. Jason Crowell (R, Cape Girardeau) says projections for state lottery revenues, which fund K-12 schools, are too high.
“If you love children, and you love education and you love Higher Education, make it your personal commitment to tithe 25 percent of your income to the state lottery," Crowell said. "Then we’ll be able to educate the children."
The budget bills now go back to the Missouri House, which is expected to reject most or all of them. The move is a routine procedure that sets up the final round of budget negotiations. Lawmakers have until May 11th to send the state budget to Governor Jay Nixon (D).