State budget blocked
6:52 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Mo. budget being blocked by group of fiscally conservative Senators

The Missouri Senate convened Monday afternoon preparing to debate next year's state budget, and almost immediately Senator Jason Crowell launched a filibuster.

The Republican from Cape Girardeau had promised weeks ago that he would block the budget over its use of one-time funds to fill holes in next year’s spending plan.  Gradually throughout the evening, other fiscally conservative Senators joined in, including Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph), and Luann Ridgeway (R, Smithville).

Early on, Crowell spent part of the filibuster lampooning the Missouri House for cutting pensions for the blind.

“Now I had no idea that blind people were the problem, that that was why we were going broke as a state," Crowell said.  "The blind people are getting cut, but there’s not one tax credit that’s getting reduced…in fact, they’re growing at 19 percent.”

The actual bill being blocked is HB2014, also known as the supplemental budget, which would made adjustments to the state budget that’s currently in effect.  The Senate chose to take that bill up before debating the 13 bills that make up next year’s spending plan.

Shortly after 8:00 p.m., Senate leaders asked that the body stand at ease so they could negotiate with filibuster leaders.  Just before midnight, Senate Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) asked that the bill be laid aside.  The Senate then adjourned for the night.

Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey (R, St. Charles) told reporters that the two sides are close to an agreement that would end the filibuster and allow the budget to move forward.  

“At the end of the day, we’re all trying to proceed in a way where we deal with the budget with the understanding that we’re using one-time money," Dempsey said.  "We need to make some structural changes so that we don’t have this annual exercise of cutting $500 million from the budget.” 

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene Tuesday morning at 10:00.