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Missouri House GOP Scraps Nixon's Budget Proposal

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, and House Budget Chair Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, discuss their FY2015 budget plans with reporters.

Republican leaders in the Missouri House have scrapped the budget being proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat. Instead they will use last year's budget bills as a starting point for crafting their fiscal year 2015 spending plan.

House Budget Chair Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, says their budget bills contain none of the governor's spending proposals for the fiscal year (FY2015) that begins July 1.

"In the past, usually we've used the governor's recommendations," Stream told reporters Thursday in Jefferson City. "This year, we just felt that...it would put the committees in a terrible position of trying to cut a lot of things."

Stream contends the state will likely have $310 million less to work with than what the governor is currently projecting.

"As I've told everybody who's come into my office since the beginning of this session, I'm going to increase funding in virtually every area, but it won't be to the levels that the governor promised or proposed," Stream said. "There'll be an increase, a pretty substantial increase, in education."

Stream is proposing a $317 million increase in overall education funding, compared to the governor's nearly $490 million education spending hike.

The governor's office disagrees.  Press Secretary Scott Holste issued the following statement:

"The governor's budget significantly increases our investment in our students and schools, and reflects his commitment to public education. As Missouri's economy continues to pick up steam, now is not the time to back up on our commitment to what we know is the best economic development tool there is:  public education."

Many Republican legislative leaders are continuing to support cutting the state's taxes on businesses and individuals; the governor has come out strongly against a plan approved a couple weeks ago by a Senate committee.

While both sides haggle over spending and tax cuts, the state's actual income situation remains murky.  In January, the state's general-revenue collections dropped dramatically by 9.5 percent, contributing to slower-than-predicted growth for the current fiscal year.

The state's current budget hinges on a projected growth of 2.1 percent, but the year-to-date increase currently is running at a fraction of that amount -- 0.7 percent.

The state's constitution requires that Missouri end each fiscal year with a balanced budget.  The governor's budget director says the state's financial situation is being closely watched, but Nixon has no plans at the moment to order any spending cuts in the current budget.

Political reporter Jo Mannies contributed information for this article.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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