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Differing opinions on how to spend state's extra cash

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Opinions differ as to what should be done with a larger-than-expected budget surplus in Missouri's coffers.

House Speaker Rod Jetton says the extra revenue may come in handy if there's a special session, especially one that focuses on a tax credit bill Gov. Blunt recently vetoed.

But Jetton says he prefers crafting new bills without relying on the additional $120 million.

"We're still trying to use this bill based on what we passed during last session, within last session's budget confines," Jetton said.

But Democratic House Member Paul LeVota of Independence says it's still not too late to use the extra money for Medicaid patients cut out of the system 2 years ago.

"We have a surplus, or extra money, because a few years ago we cut people off of health care," LeVota says. "100,000-plus people do not have health care in the state of Missouri, and they did before those cuts. I think we need to add it to people who need health care in the state."

The budget surplus is estimated at about $320 million, up from $200 million when lawmakers passed the state budget back in May. About $90 million of the higher surplus is from extra tax revenue; the rest came as a result of lower spending by state agencies.

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