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House votes to overturn 14 of Gov. Parson’s budget vetoes but Senate declines, ending session

The Missouri Senate meets on Thursday, May 11, 2023, in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Missouri Senate, pictured in May, did not get the chance to vote on any of the budget veto overrides passed by the House on Wednesday during the annual veto session. Sen. Lincoln Hough, who as Appropriations chair had the responsibility for bringing up any House overrides for a possible vote, did not, saying he wasn't sure there was enough support in the Senate.

When Missouri legislators convened Wednesday for their annual veto session, they had the option of overturning one vetoed Senate bill, as well as over $550 million in budgetary line-item vetoes.

But the session ended without any vetoes being overturned because the Senate did not move forward on action taken by the House and didn’t consider its own vetoed bill that contained multiple provisions related to public safety.

The House voted to override 14 of Gov. Mike Parson’s vetoes on this year’s state budget, with many of them also centered on public safety.

Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, had the responsibility of bringing up those budget overrides but declined.

“When I look at the necessary votes to override a governor being 23 [of 34] in this chamber, I'm not sure that we get there. And I don't really like to come out here and do things when I don't know what the outcome is going to be,” Hough said.

A two-thirds vote is necessary in both chambers, with all the overrides in the House receiving bipartisan support.

Nine of those veto overrides, brought up by House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, would have added raises for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

“We heard stories from across the state where troopers are being recruited away from the Highway Patrol and we see an ever-growing list of vacancies within their ranks,” Smith said.

While the overturns received bipartisan support, some Democrats, including Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, expressed frustration that additional raises were not being considered for other state workers, like those working in mental health.

“I've got to say it hurts a little bit to be standing here supporting that, when we just aren't doing enough for the rest of the workers in our state who are also doing incredibly difficult and incredibly important jobs for the people in Missouri,” Merideth said.

Other vetoes that were overridden included additional raises for Capitol police, more funding for Missouri Task Force 1, which responds to disasters, and state National Guard reenlistment incentives.

The House also voted to overturn Parson’s veto of $28 million in general revenue for improvements to Interstate 44.

Of the other attempts to overturn vetoes, only one brought by House Democrats succeeded. That one contained $13 million toward a police center in St. Louis.

Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, made that motion.

“This is extremely important because this facility will also house the fire department, EMS and not only that, police department dispatch services, the 911 call center, the city Emergency Management Agency and other entities,” Bosley said.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis County, also spoke in favor of the override.

“This particular veto for the St. Louis region is kind of appalling. The 911 system in St. Louis, frankly, costs lives when they won't answer the phone,” Murphy said.

However, none of the overrides made by the House went any further, after the Senate met and then adjourned without taking any action on the House overrides.

Hough also said that there was a lot of good in the budget that didn’t get vetoed, including investments made across the state.

In a statement released after the veto session ended, House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said the House stands by the budget decisions it made last session.

“We respect the governor and his veto decisions, but we believe these items are necessary for the good of the state and can have a long-lasting, positive impact,” Plocher said.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.