Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers head to Jefferson City today to begin their special session at noon. Gov. Bob Holden called the legislators back after vetoing about two-thirds of the $19 billion budget that they passed.
He wants lawmakers to approve putting a question to voters whether taxes should be raised to help prevent deep budget cuts.
But Republican leaders in the House and Senate oppose such a move. They say lawmakers will likely make just minor changes, and not the major budget rewrite the governor wants.
Sen. Wayne Goode (D-Pasadena Hills) was the only Democrat in the Senate to vote for the Republican-sponsored budget. He says it was the best plan possible given state finances, but the St. Louis County Democrat still favors a tax increase.
"We cut taxes in the late 90s by about $800 million," Goode said. "And had that not happened, we'd be in good shape today. And until at least most of that is replaced, Missouri isn't going to dig out of this hole."
This is the second special legislative session Governor Holden has called in his time in office.
Despite the gravity of the situation, look for things to get off to a slow start as the special legislative session begins today.
Budget bills, and also potential revenue-raising bills, first have to be introduced in House and Senate, then sent to committees that start working on them.
Actual floor debate isn't likely before Thursday in the House. And it could be next week before the Senate begins taking up any budget bills. In fact, it's expected that not all the Missouri lawmakers will even be on hand in Jefferson City the early part of this week.
Special legislative sessions can last up to 60 days, but with the July First start of the fiscal year approacthing, lawmakers starting work today have less than a month to come up with a solution to the state's budget problems.