St. Louis Public Radio News
4:55 am
Tue April 14, 2009

Mo. Senate begins budget debate

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate has begun debate on the state budget.

One of the early proposals is to use more than $940 million in federal stimulus funds for education and other needs.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Gary Nodler (R, Joplin) says one possible use would be to pay for college construction projects.

"It would be a $60 million one-time authorization for maintenance and repair or other one-time uses...but it is possible that those dollars could be committed to the completion of the Lewis and Clark Discovery project list," Nodler said.

Lawmakers fought several battles over funding those projects two years ago, because the money to pay for them came from funds that would have paid for student loans.

The Senate will also debate whether to include an expansion of Medicaid sought by Governor Jay Nixon, a proposal that was left out of the House version of the budget.

An alternate Senate plan that would expand health coverage to about 35,000 low-income Missourians has already won first-round approval.