JEFFERSON CITY — House members approved spending just over $770 million in capital improvement projects Tuesday.
But it was the almost $1 million to replace two carpets in the Capitol that drew much of the attention.
Several budget bills, sponsored by Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, designate funding for a range of purposes, including capital improvements, renovations to state properties and parks, and secondary education institutions.
Many of these projects will span multiple budget cycles and fiscal years, according to Rep. Dirk Deaton, R-Noel.
The approved spending includes $15 million to go to MU for the construction of a new veterinary laboratory in House Bill 19. The bill also designates nearly $1 million to each of the 19 community colleges in Missouri for deferred maintenance.
However, some lawmakers asserted some of the apportionment included in the bills were unnecessary spending. Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, pointed out the designation of $376,000 to replace the Senate Chamber carpet and $576,000 to replace the House Chamber carpet.
Nurrenbern acknowledged that there is a lot of “good stuff” in the bills, but ultimately lawmakers need “to have our constituents look at us to be good stewards of our tax dollars.”
Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, also called attention to the designation of $400,000 for the repair of the bronze doors in the Capitol building, suggesting this expense is excessive.
“Is there some kind of sinkhole, maybe, developing underneath the carpet that needs repair?” Lovasco asked.
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, noted that the state has money for all of these projects and reserves but isn’t funding Medicaid expansion.
“We’re still hearing this ridiculous message that we can’t afford to spend $100 million right now for a year of the first year of Medicaid expansion. And I’m sick of talking about this,” Merideth said.