The move was part of the normal procedure for preparing for final budget negotiations. However, some House members took the opportunity to criticize the Senate for cutting more than $3 million from the state’s tourism budget. State Rep. Don Ruzicka (R, Mount Vernon) urged House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) to try to get the cut restored.
With three weeks left in the legislative session, Governor Jay Nixon (D) is urging lawmakers to fund veterans’ homes, pensions for the blind and other specific needs in the still-unfinished state budget.
Nixon told reporters today that nursing homes for military veterans are woefully underfunded in next year’s $24 billion spending plan, and that a separate bill needs to be passed to insure a dedicated funding source for the homes.
“Missouri’s veterans’ home(s) provide critical services for thousands of men and women who have served our country with honor and bravery," Nixon said. "Let me be clear, that bill must get to my desk without delay.”
The budget chairman for the Missouri House is not happy with the Senate’s decision early Wednesday morning to restore $28 million for blind pensions.
An amendment by State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) reversed the cut that the House wanted to use for Higher Education. State Rep. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) authored the original cut, stating that the pension program is for blind residents who have too much money to be on Medicaid. He calls the Senate’s actions puzzling.
The Missouri Senate passed a $24 billion state budget early this morning, following several hours of debate and closed-door negotiations.
The Senate spending plan for FY2013 directly challenges the Missouri House's position on blind pensions. By a narrow margin, Senators restored $28 million in state funding cut by the House last month, while leaving in $18 million in federal Medicaid dollars. Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says they now have more room to maneuver when negotiations with the House begin on the final version of the budget.
The Missouri House has passed all 13 bills that make up the state’s $24 billion budget for FY 2013.
The process took longer than expected, because of the large number of Democrats who took issue with cutting funding to blind pensions and for not spending enough on K-12 schools. Sara Lampe (D, Springfield) urged fellow lawmakers to look for other ways to balance the budget besides cutting services.
A tight budget has forced East St. Louis to lay off seven more employees, leaving the city's police officers without a support staff.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the latest layoffs include Police Chief Michael Floore's secretary, the department's director of community programs and a records room employee responsible for logging all of the city's tows.
The city also cut employees in the mayor's office, the city clerk's office and the city treasurer's office.