St. Louis Public Radio News
7:59 pm
Mon January 25, 2010

Mo. Senate committee begins budget examination

Jefferson City, Mo. – Missouri's budget picture remains bleak, as lawmakers begin to consider Governor Jay Nixon's spending plan and come up with their own.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering reminded the Senate Appropriations Committee Monday that revenue collections will continue to lag. But she also said Missouri is expected to receive $300 million in federal money that can be used for state expenses.

State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) expressed concern that the Nixon Administration is depending on money that may not come.

"So, in other words, if that money doesn't come through, then the governor's (going to) have to do about $300 million of additional withholds next year?" Schaefer asked Luebbering.

She replied, "Everything else being equal, that would be correct."

Luebbering said the administration is confident Missouri will get the federal funding.

She also discussed the $121 million proposed cut to the state's Medicaid program. Luebbering told the committee that eligibility requirements will not be tampered with.

"We could not, anyway, because of federal restrictions...we are not recommending eliminating any services...we are obviously also not recommending increasing services or adding eligibility," Luebbering told committee members.

Luebbering said the Medicaid cutbacks will be covered in several ways, including a reduction in provider rates and having the federal Medicare program pick up more of the costs where appropriate.

GOP Senate leaders last year backed a proposal to add 35,000 Missourians to the Medicaid rolls. The expansion would have been funded with an additional tax on hospitals. The measure died in the Missouri House.

House budget writers are also reviewing Governor Nixon's budget proposals this week, although floor debate is not expected to begin for at least a month.