By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – Republicans in the Missouri House are holding firm on not using federal stimulus money to shore up cuts to health care and human service budget items.
House Budget chairman Allen Icet (R, Wildwood) says the federal stimulus dollars are a one-time gift and should not be used to pay for ongoing needs.
"We could actually be back here a year from now with further cuts, because the economy has continued to deteriorate...so that is my overarching concern, is how do we get the state of Missouri through a couple of years of difficult budget times?" Icet said.
Icet is withholding most of Missouri's share of federal stimulus dollars from the state budget. He says inserting them may help now, but they could also leave a massive hole in the state's budget once they're used up.
GOP leaders prefer using the federal money on construction projects and other one-time expenses.
Democrats, including State Representative Rachel Storch of St. Louis, want to use the stimulus dollars to shore up budget cuts to health care and other human service needs.
"Families are really hurting right now...they're struggling to put food on the table, to send their kids to college, people are losing jobs, and things look like they're going to get worse before (they get) better," Storch said.
Storch also says bolstering state-level safety net programs is part of the intent of President Obama's stimulus package.
A committee vote on the budget is expected this week, but debate before the full Missouri House likely won't happen until sometime after next week's legislative spring break.