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Mo. House endorses capping state budget

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
Mo. Capitol

Aproposed constitutional amendmentthat would place caps on the state budget has received first-round approval in the Missouri House.

The measure would limit state spending each year to the annual rate of inflation and would take population growth into account.  The sponsor,State Representative Eric Burlison(R, Springfield), told fellow lawmakers that they should follow the example of everyday citizens who have to balance their household budgets.  Democrats,however, including Leonard Hughes of Kansas City, argued that the proposed ballot measure would be redundant.

“It doesn’t make sense," Hughes said.  "We are required already to have a balanced budget in a way that already limits what state appropriations are…44 percent of Missouri’s major highways are already congested and they’re already in poor or mediocre condition…is that efficient?”

Other Democrats argued that placing caps on state spending would tie the hands of future lawmakers and cripple social service needs that are already critically underfunded.  House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey(R, Kansas City) disagreed.

“This legislature is not hamstringing anybody, because ultimately this goes on the ballot," Silvey said.  "The people that elect us would decide what the limits on our power is, which, by the way, is what a constitution is…it’s the people deciding what the limits on the government are supposed to be.”

The proposed ballot initiative was approved 100-53 on a strict party line vote.  Chris Kelly of Columbia was the only Democrat who voted "yes."

The resolution faces one more House vote before moving to theState Senate.  If it passes the General Assembly it could go before Missouri voters this fall.  

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