UPDATE: Budget deadlock between Missouri House and Senate continues

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 | 5:35 p.m. CDT; updated 6:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 4, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — The deadlock over Missouri's operating budget continued as the House and Senate could not reach an agreement by Wednesday afternoon.

The debate has been primarily over higher education funding, local school district transportation and the Missouri Rx Plan, a prescription drug program for seniors.

House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said he was frustrated with the stalemate.

"I am astounded by the unwillingness to budge on this issue," Silvey said.

The standoff stems from the Senate adding $20 million to Missouri's colleges and universities and another $20 million for local school district transportation to the original House position.

Silvey offered a compromise that would add $10 million to higher education and $10 million for transportation, a difference of $20 million from the Senate position on those two items.

Also included in Silvey's compromise are $2 million for a UMKC pharmacy program, $1 million for an MU Health kidney program, and $30,000 for the Boone County prosecutor's office. The deal also keeps the Missouri Rx Plan funded at its original level.

"I think the House has made its final offer," Silvey said.

All five House conferees, including two Democrats, signed off on the compromise. No senators did.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said the committee has not reached a deal yet.

"I think we are close," Schaefer said.

The conference committee met later in the day but to no avail. Schaefer criticized the House, saying their actions have been "unprecedented," by not allowing the conference committee to deliberate the open budget items.

"I can't find a single person in this building who has ever seen this happen. ... It is not the way it is supposed to be," Schaefer said.

Silvey, however, said he has been willing to compromise and it has been the Senate that has not had come to the table for negotiations.

"That was inspiring, senator, an amazing piece of theater and I applaud you for it," Silvey said with sarcasm after Schaefer criticized the House.

The committee has recessed until further notice. The budget must be passed by 6 p.m. Friday.

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