JEFFERSON CITY — Health care for military veterans and the blind have been linked by Missouri lawmakers negotiating a final version of the state's budget.
House and Senate budget conferees put off a decision Monday on whether to fully fund health coverage for more than 2,800 blind residents. The negotiators are waiting to see whether the Senate will first pass legislation providing a dedicated funding source for state-run nursing homes that serve more than 1,300 military veterans.
If the veterans' legislation fails, budget writers may seek other funds to pay for the nursing homes. That could come at the expense of the state tourism division and autism programs and health care for the blind.
Negotiators did agree Monday to provide a 2 percent pay raise to state employees earning up to $70,000 annually.