What the Missouri Senate budget committee did this week | St. Louis Public Radio

What the Missouri Senate budget committee did this week

Apr 13, 2017

Updated 4:30 p.m. with specific date by which federal crime victims money must be used — Missouri legislators have three weeks left to get the state’s $27.8 billion budget for the next fiscal year across the finish line, and aren’t moving as quickly as they did in 2016.

The 13 budget bills currently reside in the Senate’s budget committee, which worked on several of them in the past week. Here’s the breakdown of the changes they’ve made compared to the House budget and what they’ll look to finish next week:

Higher education

The committee switched the funding for the four-campus University of Missouri System and the state’s other four-year colleges. Instead of a 9 percent, UM system cut and 6.5 percent otherwise, the UM system will see $10 million more.

But there’s a catch: All segments of the higher education bill would have to go through final negotiations with the House.

The Senate budget committee’s leader, Dan Brown, R-Rolla, indicated the end result will ideally be closer to how much Gov. Eric Greitens wanted to cut from higher ed — $36 million in total.

“My goal is to take them to the same level at some point,” Brown said.

K-12 education

K-12 schools will likely dip under the Senate’s funding as well.

The House recommended a $45 million budget, which would nearly fully fund the formula. But Brown said the Senate will put somewhere between $3 million and $45 million toward it, and wouldn’t be more specific.

However, the House’s $36 million for school transportation will remain untouched.

“If you fully fund the formula, there are some schools ... that do not get a fair cut of that whereas transportation gets a fair cut across the board,” Brown said.

Crime victims funding

The committee found $77 million worth of federal money for victims of violent crime that’d been untouched for two years, $37 million of which will lapse if lawmakers don’t use it by Sept. 30, 2018.

Sen. Shalonn Curls, D-Kansas City, said she’s frustrated that the money could have been used by now.

“You’ve had organizations that have applied for grants that they have not received … and have received such a small amount of a grant,” Curls said. “I don’t get it!”

The committee decided to give the entirety of those funds to the Department of Social Services, which will be distributed throughout the agency. But the funds will still be used to provide services for victims of violent crimes by assisting with counseling and medical expenses, among other things.

Criminal re-entry and rehabilitation

A criminal re-entry and rehabilitation program may receive far less than what Greitens had asked for.

The program received almost $200,000 for the current fiscal year that ends in June, while the Greitens and House have recommended $2 million for the coming budget year.

The Senate committee has said it wants to put nothing toward it, though the topic was left open for discussion when the committee reconvenes next Wednesday.

Other topics they’ll discuss include: funding for sobriety checkpoints, I-70 tolls and the $6 million dollar summer jobs program proposed by Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis.

Follow Krissy on Twitter: @krissyrlane