One day after the Missouri House gave first-round approval to the state budget, a state Senator is threatening to derail the entire budget process.
Jason Crowell (R, Cape Girardeau) is objecting to the use of one-time sources of money to plug holes in the FY2013 budget. He singled out both Democratic Governor Jay Nixon and House GOP leaders for plans to divert $40 million from a federal mortgage settlement to the state’s Higher Education budget.
The Missouri House is debating all 13 bills this afternoon that make up the state’s proposed budget for next year.
Lawmakers are offering up several amendments to the budget – one in particular would have shifted $150,000 from the state’s biodiesel fund to Alzheimer’s patients. It was sponsored by State Rep. Tracy McCreery (I, Olivette).
The bill would increase the number of security cameras at the State Capitol and allow the Governor’s Office of Administration to hire private, armed security guards if needed. It’s sponsored by Robin Wright-Jones (D, St. Louis). She filed the bill shortly after someone placed rifle target stickers outside her office and the offices of several other Democratic Senators and one House Republican lawmaker.
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich has decided not to enter the Republican race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Schweich said in a statement Tuesday that he determined his candidacy would have made the Republican Senate primary more contentious, and thus would not have helped Republican chances of defeating McCaskill in November.
The Senate race already includes three prominent Republicans - former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and businessman John Brunner.
The bill would not go as far as a proposal made by Mayor Francis Slay: Among the differences, Slay’s plan would have all firefighters put 9 percent of their salaries into the system, and new hires would not get any of that money back upon retirement. The bill in the State House would have new firefighters put in 8 percent, and upon retirement would get back 25 percent of what they paid in. F.I.R.E. Chairman and St. Louis firefighter Abram Pruitt, Junior, traveled to Jefferson City to support the bill.
House Democrats are backing legislation they say would toughen Missouri’s ethics standards.
The bill would restore many provisions recently struck down by the State Supreme Court: They include banning committee-to-committee money transfers and giving the Missouri Ethics Commission the authority to launch its own investigations. The High Court struck them down because they were tacked onto another bill that had nothing to do with ethics. State Rep. Tishaura Jones (D, St. Louis) says she’s filing a new bill because GOP leaders have so far done nothing following the Supreme Court ruling.
The ballot measure was passed last year by the General Assembly and is scheduled to go before Missouri voters in November. If approved, it would clear the way for lawmakers to pass enabling legislation to require voters to show a photo ID at the polls. Tony Rothert is an attorney with the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. He calls the ballot measure misleading.