St. Louis Public Radio News
12:33 am
Tue May 5, 2009

Mo. budget agreement in trouble

Jefferson City, MO – House and Senate negotiators have reached an agreement on Missouri's budget for Fiscal Year 2010.

But House Republicans are not happy with a proposed Medicaid expansion in one of the bills.

Budget negotiators added a provision to raise hospital taxes in order to increase Medicaid coverage to parents earning up to 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

But House Republicans have opposed Medicaid expansion this year, and Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says they may reject the provision.

"There (are) a couple of options that could happen: One is you could bring it up and move the adoption, and it fails...the other one is the Budget Chair just moves it back to conference, and certainly that's something that's on the table right now," Tilley said.

State Senator Joan Bray (D, St. Louis) says the thought sickens her.

"Thirty-five thousand working parents, working poor...give them health care, so they can be better parents, be at their jobs, take care of their children better...how sad it would be to deny those folks," Bray said.

State law mandates that bills comprising the state budget be passed one week before the end of session, which gives lawmakers until Friday to do so.

If the bill that includes the Medicaid expansion doesn't pass, Tilley says the governor would have to call a special session.