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Mo. House to begin final budget debates

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri House is set to begin debate on the final version of the state budget Wednesday.

Budget negotiators sliced around $450 million from the $23.9 billion spending plan, which falls just short of the $500 million Governor Jay Nixon wanted cut.

One of those negotiators, State Representative Rick Stream (R, Kirkwood), says the budget they've produced is balanced.

"We had to cut $200 million out of the budget, plus up to $300 million, based on the federal money that's coming from Washington DC...we wanted to take that money out of our budget and save it to next year," Stream said.

The finalized version includes deep cuts to various social service programs and less money for K-through-12 schools. Another conferee, State Representative Sara Lampe (D, Springfield), lamented the cuts.

"We're in the position of cutting things without having (an) honest, on-the-table discussion about revenue coming in and how we can possibly supplement the existing revenue stream, how we can stop the leak in the revenue," Lampe said.

Lampe suggests one way is to reexamine the amount of money the state gives away each year in tax credits. Governor Nixon is proposing cutting the amount of incentives and handing the purse strings over to his Economic Development department.

House and Senate members have until May 7th to pass the budget.