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Mo. budget negotiations moving swiftly

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Negotiators working on Missouri's budget for next year are making quick progress toward an agreement, but that's not necessarily good news.

One of the conferees, State Senator Joan Bray (D, St. Louis), says the quick pace can be attributed to a general consensus that big cuts are needed to Governor Jay Nixon's original spending plan.

"There (are) a few sticking points, but it's really going fairly quickly because we always have to take whichever cut number is the biggest and try to get to the half-billion dollars that needs to be cut."

Bray says as a result, thousands of low-income Missourians will lose access to various services, including drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, and services for the developmentally disabled.

State Senator Robert Mayer (R, Dexter) chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"The financial crisis that the state is experiencing right now requires that we make these cuts...and even some of the members have told me, 'I want to advocate for my position for more funding, however I realize that under the circumstances, those cuts more than likely will have to be made,'" Mayer said.

Once the conference committee finishes crafting the final version of the state budget, it must be approved by both the Missouri House and Senate by May 7th.