JEFFERSON CITY — Weeks later than usual, the Missouri House could begin action today on a state budget that rejects the governor’s proposals and has few substantial changes from the current year’s budget.
The almost $18.5 billion budget was passed out of the House Budget Committee on Monday on a near-partisan vote. The University of Missouri system would receive the same amount that it was appropriated for the current year.
House Budget Committee Chair Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, said the committee’s budget protects education. Because the governor is currently withholding $116 million from elementary and secondary education, the funds appropriated represent an increase of $140 million over what schools have for the current budget year, he said.
The higher education budget would restore withholdings currently made by the governor but offer few increases.
Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, said holding education funding steady appears reasonable at first glance.
“But when you look at the inflation in education costs, you realize that all we’ve done is shift the cost from the state to those who have to pay tuition,” she said.
The committee’s budget totals about $330 million less than that proposed by Gov. Bob Holden. Bearden said the governor’s recommendations proposed spending $522 million dependent on tax increases the voters would have to approve.
Bearden said the budget passed out of committee probably spends less money than the state will take in for the next year.
“April 15, though, will be the real key for what our consensus revenue is for next year,” he said.
According to the agreement on the current consensus revenue estimate among the House, Senate and governor, the three parties will meet to revise the estimate at that point — the deadline for filing tax returns.
“I don’t see how it does anything but go up,” Bearden said of the consensus revenue estimate. He pointed to the revenue growth the state has seen through February of this year.
Rep. Yvonne Wilson, D-Kansas City, was one of few Democrats that voted for some of the bills. Wilson said she was unsatisfied with most of the appropriations, but some department heads that spoke before the committee “indicated they could make do” with the committee’s cuts.