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Likelihood of another Missouri special session getting slimmer

House Republicans talk during the last day of the legislative session. May 17, 2017
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
House Republicans talk on May 12, the last day of the legislative session.

Missouri lawmakers still don’t have an agreement on how to restore in-home health care services for more than 8,000 low-income residents.

Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a bill that would have maintained in-home care funding by using unspent dollars from numerous state boards and commissions. In vetoing the measure, he called it a “last-minute budget gimmick.”

A largely ceremonial attempt to override Greitens’ veto fell way short in September. Since then, lawmakers have been negotiating about having a special session around the issue. But Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, said time is running out.

“We are on a time frame that if we don’t do the special session fairly quickly, you lose the effectiveness of it,” Wood said. “We might as well wait until next session and put it into next year’s budget, if we can’t get a resolution fairly fast.”

Republicans want to reduce a tax break, commonly known as the circuit breaker, for elderly renters and homeowners as a way to pay for restored in-home health care services. Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Peter Merideth of St. Louis, oppose that idea. 

“Democrats have offered 10 or so strong suggestions for where we could find this funding in a fairer way, and we’re just sitting here waiting on Republicans to actually offer us something,” Merideth said. “(We’re hearing) crickets.”

Those suggestions include getting rid of the timely filing discount, which allows Missouri retailers to keep a portion of sales and use taxes they collect from customers if they file their tax returns “in a timely manner.”

“If we just took 1 percent of the timely filing (discount), that would be enough money to restore (in-home) cuts,” said Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.

Another suggestion floated by Democrats and shot down by Republicans would have required the state to begin collecting sales taxes for online purchases.

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, said last week on St. Louis Public Radio's Politically Speaking podcast that Greitens would likely not call a special session on in-home health care unless lawmakers agreed to a plan before returning to Jefferson City.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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

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