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In final days before deadline, Missouri Senate passes budget for next fiscal year

Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.

The deadline for the legislature to pass the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is 6 p.m. Friday.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. May 9 with Senate passing the budget

With less than 24 hours left before the constitutional deadline, the Missouri Senate passed its version of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Members of the Senate discussed the 16 bills that make up the budget for next year, along with a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year, for roughly eight hours Thursday.

The Senate’s version totals $51.7 billion, which is roughly $1 billion more than what the House initially passed.

The budget now goes to the House, which is not expected to ask for a conference committee to find compromise language. Instead, the House is likely to vote on the Senate version without changes.

Original story from May 9:

The day before the deadline, the Missouri Senate began debate on Thursday over the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Senators began work on the budget around 10 a.m. Thursday, with discussions already held on some of the bills that make up the budget. The legislature must complete the budget by 6 p.m. Friday, leaving lawmakers with less than 30 hours to complete the task.

Due to time constraints, the process of passing this year’s budget is different.

Normally, once the Senate makes its changes, the budget is sent back to the House. Then, a set of conference committees consisting of representatives and senators meet and decide the final budget product.

However, with the bills still in the Senate, there’s no time for potential conference committees.

Instead, the Senate and House have collaborated on the budget behind closed doors to try to reach a product that the House would take up and pass without objections.

“Decisions were being made last night at two in the morning still, the House and myself and some of our colleagues, were still in the building and trying to hash out, you know, a responsible path forward,” said Sen. Lincoln Hough, the Appropriations chair.

Hough, R-Springfield, also said part of the reason why the process has been in a time crunch is because the House was late in passing the budget and sending it to the Senate.

However, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, blamed the delay on the Senate’s effort to pass the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, a tax on health care facilities that funds Medicaid, last week instead of working on the budget.

“Because you were so interested in passing the FRA last week, willing to push a record-setting filibuster on the floor, the whole week was burned up. And as a result of that, we didn't have enough time to do conference committees this week,” Eigel said.

Eigel, along with other members of the Missouri Freedom Caucus, filibustered for more than 40 hours last week against the FRA and demanded the Senate instead take up and pass a resolution that would make it harder to amend the state constitution.

The FRA was given initial approval in the Senate but has not yet passed the chamber. Senators also have not yet passed a resolution making it harder to amend the constitution.

Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, defended the decision to attempt to pass the FRA before the budget.

“In a best-case scenario, if everybody's operating in good faith and not leveraging every single possible thing they ever could, it makes more sense to do the FRA before you do the budget,” Rowden said.

The House sent over its version of the budget on April 4. Their $50.7 billion total budget was roughly $2 billion less than what was initially proposed by Gov. Mike Parson.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the budget on April 24. That budget totaled $53 billion, about $3 billion more than the House budget.

However, the final product is likely to be closer to the House’s total than the Senate’s. So far, the budget bills introduced on the Senate floor have totaled less than their Senate committee predecessors.

Failure to pass the budget would likely lead to a special session, since the budget would have to be in place before the upcoming fiscal year begins in July.

Gov. Mike Parson said before the Senate convened Thursday that his office hadn’t seen the budget yet.

“My assumption is without any input from the office, it's problematic,” Parson said.

Parson also spoke against the $8 million in the budget for state troops at the Texas-Mexico border.

“If that does go through the budget, part of that will be vetoed, because we've never asked for that and we don't need that money,” the governor said. “I think that was more of a political statement people were trying to make to say we support that.”

Parson asked the legislature for $2.2 million this year to fund his plan sending troops to the border. He signed that budget bill into law on Wednesday.

However, regarding the proposed continuation of funds within next year’s budget, Parson said he doesn’t expect troop presence to be a long-term commitment.

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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