Missouri budget concerns stir controversy in the House

Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:40 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 26, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House budget chairman has a career change recommendation for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"If your aim is to be a participant in the Missouri budgeting process, I encourage you to come back and run for state representative once again," Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, wrote Wednesday in a letter to McCaskill.

In a conference call with reporters earlier Wednesday, McCaskill accused Republicans in the legislature of political posturing.

"They're saying the stimulus is evil, and then they're shutting the door as they do their budgets and saying, 'Thank God we have a stimulus,'" she said.

Icet said he wishes Missouri had never received any stimulus money.

"The federal government has not helped the states," Icet said. "The federal government has just extended the day of reckoning by a couple of years."

He said that he ultimately decided to support the use of stabilization funds because that money, which comes in part from Missouri taxpayers, would have gone to another state if Missouri had declined.

Icet didn't say what he thinks would have been cut without the stimulus funds.

On Monday, McCaskill sent a letter to Icet and Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, that noted their criticism of federal spending and asked how the budget would be affected if stimulus funds were rescinded.

In a statement, Mayer said that what McCaskill referred to as stimulus dollars are taxpayer dollars.

"Those dollars added to our national debt and must be paid back by the taxpayers, and unfortunately, most likely our children and grandchildren," the statement said.

Icet filed a bill recently urging the federal government to balance their budget.

Although he criticized McCaskill for commenting on the Missouri budget process, he said his complaints about federal spending are appropriate.

"Congress was not created to dictate to the states," he said. "It's the other way around."

Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, sighed when shown McCaskill's and Icet's letters.

"This is not productive," she said. "Let's lower the rhetoric and move on."

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