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Missouri Budget Debate Begins

Jordan Shirparo, KMOX State Capitol Bureau
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Jefferson City 4, Gettyy Images, Dennis McDonald
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – Missouri’s Senate is set to consider the state’s $24 billion budget Monday, more than one week after the Senate Appropriations Committee concluded their mark-up.

The Senate will begin debate Monday on a budget freezes spending on both K-12 and higher education.

Gov. Jay Nixon had originally called for a 15 percent cut to public universities, but the House and Senate both found additional funds to reverse that proposal. The General Assembly dipped into welfare programs such as child care subsidies and health care for the blind to fund the state’s public colleges at the same level as last year. A $40 million payment from a national mortgage settlement also helped.

The budget passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee is $86 million less than what passed the House last month. Most of that money came from various social services programs. The committee cut $13 million from foster care programs and another $16 million in child care subsidies.

Some conservatives in the Senate, however, said they are concerned with the amount of spending and how tax credits deprive the state revenue.

Tax credits have long been a controversial issue in Missouri’s legislature. Disagreements between the House and Senate over whether existing tax credits programs should have an expiration date or “sunset” derailed last fall’s special session.

Some members of Missouri’s House are worried the issue of tax credits could enter the Senate’s debate on the budget.

Tax credits are not subject to appropriation like other spending in state government. Once a program is created the revenue lost from the program comes off the top of available spending for other programs. In 2013, Missouri is expected to redeem $685 million in tax credits and that spending does not factor into the state’s operating budget.

Missouri faces a roughly $500 million budget hole from last year caused be an expiration of federal stimulus dollars and a reduction in the federal government’s payments to the Medicaid program. House and Senate budget leaders and the State Budget Director Linda Luebbering are also counting on a $285 million increase in state revenue from last year.

The budget must be passed by May 11, one week before the end of the legislative session.

Link Budget Tables:  http://mdn.org/2012/DATA/BUD13.HTM

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