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Politically Speaking: Rep. Lavender Previews Impending Scramble Over Missouri Budget

State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, poses for a portrait in the St. Louis Public Radio studios.

State Rep. Deb Lavender returns to Politically Speaking to talk about upcoming debate on the Missouri budget, which is slated to take place over the next few weeks.

Lavender, D-Kirkwood, is currently serving her third term in the Missouri House. She serves on the House Budget Committee, and has sought to make her mark on the panel responsible for mapping out the state’s spending priorities.

Missouri has been experiencing a decline in revenue for months compared to the previous fiscal year. But the state has a fairly large surplus to fill in the budget gap this year.

One of the other major initiatives going through the House Budget Committee is a plan from Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, to steer $100 million in general-revenue funds to repair the state’s bridges. That’s in contrast to Gov. Mike Parson’s bonding plan, which Republicans like Smith worry will saddle the state with interest payments.

Here’s what Lavender had to say during the show:

  • Lavender is concerned that Missouri will have difficult budgetary years into the future — especially after lawmakers cut taxes. “We know we have that large cushion from last year to make things whole,” she said. “But going forward, if we’re down another $350 million and we don’t have that cushion — then we’ve got to start cutting more services.”
  • She said Smith’s transportation plan may not be able to be sustained if someone else becomes the chairman of the House Budget Committee. “What if Rep. Smith decides to go to Congress and a seat opens up for him — or he decides to go to the Senate?” she said. “So if he gets off this target over the next couple of years, is the next budget chairman going to do the same thing?”
  • Lavender expects the Missouri House to try and push for a larger amount of state low-income housing tax credits to be available. She expects that the House and Senate will ultimately come to a compromise, which will result in the program being restarted.
  • She is opposed to lawmakers placing a proposal on the ballot to undo a new state legislative redistricting system. That plan, widely known as Clean Missouri, would give much of the power to draw state House and Senate districts to a demographer.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Deb Lavender on Twitter: @DebLavender

Music: “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.