Mo. lawmakers send $24B budget to governor

May 10, 2012

The Missouri General Assembly has passed and sent next year’s state budget to Governor Jay Nixon (D).

The $24 billion spending plan passed both chambers with little difficulty, but not without some complaints.  State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) was not happy with language restoring a health care program for blind Missourians.  He says he’ll file a constitutional objection.

“Such an action could violate the constitutional restriction that a bill be limited to one subject, (according to) Article Three, Section 23," Lembke said.  "Amending substantive law through an appropriation bill is unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Democrats in the House again spoke of the need to find more revenue, saying Missouri needs to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases and raise the state’s cigarette tax.  Several departments and agencies appear to have higher budgets in next year’s spending plan than they do right now. Budget leaders say that’s because they’re using more precise numbers this year, instead of estimates.  Either way, Democrat Sara Lampe of Springfield, who sits on the House Budget Committee, says the state is not getting enough revenue.  She compared Missouri’s budget woes to the movie The Hunger Games.

“Where scarce resources pit good people against each other, and in the movie, some people win, some people lose, and even some of them die," Lampe said.  "I know we can do better, (and) I urge you to take action so next year’s budget won’t be Missouri’s version of The Hunger Games.”

Lampe also called on the Missouri Senate to take up and pass the tax amnesty bill, which supporters say would provide an extra $70 million in revenue.  The bill passed the House in March, but a group of Senators vowed to kill it via filibuster, calling it a gimmick that encourages tax delinquents to break the law.  The measure would allow Missouri residents to pay tax bills late without being penalized.

Nixon has until June 30th to sign the state budget into law.