House plan reconsiders Amtrak cuts

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — House budget writers on Tuesday restored money for Amtrak passenger train service and Alzheimer’s research — two items targeted for elimination in earlier budget proposals.

The House budget plan would fund the passenger trains, which make eight stops between Kansas City and St. Louis, with about $6.2 million, roughly the same amount Amtrak received for the current fiscal year.

Gov. Matt Blunt originally proposed funding Amtrak at $6.4 million, but then a House subcommittee on transportation recommended eliminating all Amtrak funding to help balance the budget.

Recently, Blunt also recommended scrapping Amtrak funding when he laid out an additional $240 million in cuts for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

But House Budget Chairman Brad Lager, R-Maryville, proposed to supply the full

$6.4 million to Amtrak on Tuesday in his committee. The committee members voted to reduce that to about $6.2 million by diverting $226,835 for the continuation of state grants for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The Alzheimer’s program also had been targeted for elimination by Blunt’s budget proposal. But medical researchers and Alzheimer’s advocacy groups lobbied lawmakers to save the program, saying the state funding was critical for attracting other grants and ultimately toward discovering a cure. The amended budget plan would provide about the same amount of money for Alzheimer’s research as was appropriated for this fiscal year.

This year’s budget is far from finished, and the funding bills still must go through the House and the Senate.

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