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Missouri Legislature faces 6 p.m. deadline to pass multibillion-dollar budget

LGBTQ Rights Missouri
Posted at 9:14 AM, May 10, 2024

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers were set to pass a roughly $51 billion state budget Friday within hours of their 6 p.m. deadline.

After sometimes tense debate between Republicans for most of the day, senators on Thursday approved a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1.

It's now up to the House to give the budget final approval before the constitutional deadline.

Work on the budget in the Senate had been delayed last week amid a standoff between chamber leaders — who wanted to pass a $4.5 billion hospital tax program before tackling the rest of the budget — and the Freedom Caucus.

Members of the GOP faction spent the better part of two days last week filibustering in an attempt to pressure Republican Gov. Mike Parson to sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, which he had been expected to do and eventually did Thursday.

The caucus also wants the Legislature to pass a measure that would make it harder to pass future constitutional amendments, if approved by voters.

Meanwhile, House and Senate budget leaders had been negotiating behind closed doors to iron-out a compromise rather than airing differences over spending priorities in committee hearings.

The biggest disagreement between the House and Senate was over the total cost of the budget, with the House pushing for roughly $50 billion compared to the Senate Appropriations Committee's recommended $53 billion.

Republican Sen. Lincoln Hough on Thursday presented a whittled-down version in an attempt to reach an agreement with the House, despite warnings from Parson that underfunding could delay payments on inevitable bills.

“All you’re doing is just passing that on to the other legislators,” Parson told reporters Thursday.

Next year's budget includes $120 million more in baseline funding for public K-12 education, plus $55 million for child care subsidies.

Building on recent infrastructure investments, lawmakers agreed to pump $861 million into expanding Interstate 44 to six lanes near Springfield, Joplin and Rolla.

Senators in the Freedom Caucus on Thursday sought to ban government spending on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Those amendments were voted down.