Mo. Senate budget plan spares education, but cuts state worker pay hikes | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. Senate budget plan spares education, but cuts state worker pay hikes

Apr 4, 2012

Budget hearings have begun in the Missouri Senate, and already there are notable differences with the House in where that chamber wants to make cuts.

While the House budget would give state workers earning less than $70,000 per year a two percent raise, the Senate version would limit those raises to workers making less than $45,000 per year.  Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“We have some members who are concerned at the amount of money that that would cost," Schaefer said.  "It’s about $20 million total if we go with the House, it’s about a little over $14 (million) if we go with what’s been proposed in (the Senate) committee.”

Schaefer also says they’ve concurred with the House and reversed Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) proposed cuts to higher education.  Schaefer appears to be leaning toward reversing the $28 million cut the House made to a program for the blind, but says he and his fellow budget writers haven’t arrived at a decision yet.   Denny Huff, President of the Missouri Council of the Blind, hopes they follow through.

“(There are) 2800 blind people in Missouri without medical coverage," Huff said.  "Some of them may have some medical coverage, but some of them will not have any if this passes.” 

The Senate committee also agreed with the House to add about $5 million to Missouri's $3 billion basic aid program to public school districts.  Budget meetings are scheduled through Good Friday, but Schaefer says he hopes to wrap things up by Thursday.