U.S. Senate passes bill without $300 million Nixon counted on

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 8:50 a.m. CST, Tuesday, February 23, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — Roughly $300 million of the state's revenue next year is now in jeopardy.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill Monday that did not include federal money Gov. Jay Nixon was counting on in his budget.

Nixon's budget recommendation, released in January, includes funds from a federal jobs bill, but state Budget Director Linda Luebbering said the money was not in the Senate bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives, however, did pass a jobs bill in December with the funding.

Both houses will have to approve identical versions of the bill before it can go to the president for approval.

U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kit Bond, R-Mo., both voted in favor of the legislation.

State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, who sits on the House Budget Committee, said the committee's job will be more difficult if the funds do not materialize.

"That means that the governor has sent us a bill that, through no fault of his own, is $300 million high," Kelly said. "We've got to dig our way out of that hole. I don't see any other option."

House Budget Chairman Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, said Monday's U.S. Senate vote doesn't necessarily mean the stabilization funds won't materialize.

"There are opportunities to amend the bill," Icet said. "My honest opinion is I don't think there's a lot of appetite in D.C. to do things to help the states."

Icet instructed the six appropriations committees in the House to cut 5 percent when they reviewed Nixon's budget recommendations last week. That would have reduced Nixon's recommended amounts by more than $300 million. Icet said Monday that committee recommendations did not hit this mark.

The Budget Committee will hear from the appropriations committees in the next few weeks. He said it was too early to say what effect the U.S. Senate vote would have on committee action.

"That's one of those dynamics we'll have to consider," Icet said. "It's a process. Stay tuned."


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