Mo. Senate panel endorses roughly $24B budget plan | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo. Senate panel endorses roughly $24B budget plan

Apr 12, 2012

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.

The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month.  Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons.  Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.

“Higher Education, K-12, a lot of other things have taken five, 10, up to 20 percent cuts," Schaefer said.  "Medicaid spending through appropriations in the state of Missouri has grown by $1.6 billion, or 25 percent growth, in the last three years.”

Because of that, Schaefer says they’ve sought to be more even in distributing cuts among state programs.  He adds that the cuts were necessary in part because of uncertainty over whether the Senate can pass a tax amnesty bill.

“So if that’s the case, this committee is still responsible for delivering a balanced budget, and so we had to cut some additional money out and we did that," Schaefer said.

The Senate budget plan also makes no cuts to higher education, and would use federal Medicaid funds and monthly premiums and co-pays to preserve pensions for the blind.  The Missouri Senate is expected to begin floor debates on the state budget next week.