Missouri’s budget for the next fiscal year has been passed by the State House.
While Medicaid expansion has dominated most of the debate, spending hikes were approved in other areas. There’s an extra $65 million for K-12 schools, although the increase still falls short of fully funding the state’s public school formula. Republican Mike Lair of Livingston County chairs the Appropriations committee on Education.
“Maybe we don’t have as much money as you want to have, but we have enough money to do the things we have to do," Lair said. 'There will be a quality teacher in the (class)room with the children, and education will take place.”
The nearly $25 billion spending plan increases funding for tourism and Higher Education, but does not include Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) call to expand Medicaid. Fellow Democrat Margo McNeil of Hazelwood says there would have been more money available in the budget for colleges and universities if Medicaid had been expanded.
“That expansion has been refused by the majority party, and the opportunity to provide more scholarships and more funding for our great state institutions of higher education has been lost,” McNeil said.
House Democrats this afternoon filed 20 new bills that would all expand Medicaid – the move appears to be symbolic, as today was the last day bills can be filed in the Missouri House during the 2013 regular session.
The 13 budget bills are now in the hands of the Missouri Senate, which is threatening to delay passing the budget for the Department of Revenue (DOR) over the state agency’s scanning of source documents for driver’s licenses, conceal-carry endorsements and other permits. Earlier this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee issued a subpoena ordering Revenue officials to hand over all documentation related to the practice, in order to determine if the agency is sharing information with the federal government or a third-party entity. Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard (R, Joplin) promised Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) to delay passage of the DOR’s budget until it complies.
“If we have to go into special session on their budget, we will go through the budget process, (but) we will not go to their budget until you are satisfied with their answers,” Richard told Schaefer on the Senate floor.
Revenue Director Brian Long recently told a State House committee that his agency is not sharing information from scanned documents with the federal government, and that they began the practice as a means of combatting fraud.
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