February 10, 2016

House Republicans to craft budget without $164 million from Medicaid expansion, legislation

House Republican Budget Leaders say they will begin work on the next state spending plan without including about $164 million dollars found in the Governor’s budget proposal.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Of that, $46 million is projected new tax revenue and savings resulting from Medicaid expansion and the rest relies on passage of legislation: $52 million from passage of an amnesty period for people to pay overdue taxes, more than $10 million from a proposed law encouraging collection of sales taxes on online purchases and more than $56 million from the elimination of a tax break for low-income renters.

Rep. Sue Allen (R-Town and Country) chairs the budget committee on health, mental health and social services.

“From the perspective of my committee, that [money] may or may not be real,” Allen says. “I’m not going to waste my time incorporating budget recommendations that very likely are not going to be there.”

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) says if any of those pieces of legislation or policy changes advance, planners can put it back into the budget, but he says banking on it is not fiscally responsible.

“Any country that is borrowing over 40 percent of every dollar it spends is in a disaster mode,” Stream says. “Missouri is not that way. We don’t go into deficit spending like that. We don’t want to contribute to the deficit spending of the government.”

Tax amnesty legislation has cleared the House before but not become law.

Stream says so-called circuit breaker tax credit for renters “really never passed the House before to my knowledge and certainly not the Senate.”

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. She says her caucus will just have to keep working on advancing Medicaid expansion.

“We’re certainly in the minority but I think that we try the best we can to make the case both from an ethical and a financial standpoint and hope that by the end of the day we can sift through all the facts and get this put back in the budget,” Kirkton says.

Kirkton says she hopes this won’t start off the budget process on a bad tone, after the last couple of years have been smooth and marked by bipartisanship.

“I’m hoping that we will still continue to work in a bipartisan manner and I do think that because we are in a minority that we will have a more uphill battle to get things that are near and dear to the Democratic principles into the budget.”

Nixon’s budget is $25.875 billion, more than $1 billion higher than it was last year, most of the increase coming from Medicaid expansion. Stream says he doesn’t know what number House budget makers will be working with.

“We don’t get the budget books until Monday,” Stream says. “Once we get those we’ll start going through them.”