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Missouri House endorses 2009 budget

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The 2009 state budget has received first-round approval from the Missouri House.

There were few changes to the $23 billion spending plan offered by Governor Matt Blunt in his State of the State Address in January.

House Budget Chair Alan Icet (R, Wildwood) says, though, they've increased the amount of money to be held in reserve from $50 million to $150 million.

"Given the general direction the economy is going, I don't want to get to the point where we actually have to engage in core cuts, because of the potential economic downturn...so I feel good about putting some money back in reserve, in case we do have a rainy day," Icet said.

Democrats say the money should have been allocated toward restoring Medicaid benefits cut by Governor Blunt three years ago.

House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) says it shows that the G.O.P. has the wrong priorities.

"When asked to put the money that we do have in the most important priorities, again they've rejected that, when it comes to health care and education...that's sad...again, for the third straight year, the priorities are wrong on this budget," LeVota said.

The House is scheduled to debate the bill and vote it out Thursday. After that, it goes to the Missouri Senate.

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