After nearly eight hours of debate Monday, the Missouri Senate has passed next year’s state budget.
The roughly $25 billion spending plan still does not include Medicaid expansion, but not for a lack of trying by Democrats. Minority Floor Leader Jolie Justus offered up an amendment that would’ve added $890 million to the Social Services budget, enough to expand Medicaid to around 260,000 Missourians next year.
"It seems to me that it’s pretty simple," Justus said. "Say ‘yes,’ create the jobs, expand the health care, take the money, the money that we’ve already sent to Washington DC in the form of our taxpayer dollars.”
But Senate Republicans again said “no,” slamming the door shut this year on using budget bills as vehicles to expand Medicaid.
The full Senate also voted to de-fund the Department of Revenue's Division of Motor Vehicles and Driver’s Licensing. It’s been embroiled in controversy over the scanning of source documents for driver’s license and conceal carry weapons applicants, and for compiling a list of all of Missouri’s CCW holders and giving it to a federal investigator. State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says Missouri’s "DMV" will remain unfunded until the Nixon Administration begins to truly cooperate with his Appropriations Committee investigation.
“We’re not gonna be held hostage by an out-of-control (state) agency whose gonna say, ‘either you give us the money for whatever we want it for, we’re not gonna tell you what we’re using it for, or we’re gonna take it out of Missouri citizens who buy new vehicles or need a driver’s license,’" Schaefer told reporters. "We’re simply not going to do that.”
All 13 budget bills now go back to the Missouri House, which will likely reject most of the Senate’s changes and set up final negotiations between both chambers. Lawmakers have until May 10th to send the budget to Governor Jay Nixon (D).
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport