The plan to lump together the budgets of three state agencies and let them divide up their money has lost a key supporter.
House and Senate lawmakers were supposed to begin public negotiations Wednesday. The holdup has been the proposal of Senate Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) to lump together most of the money for the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Social Services into two pools, reduce the increases the House proposed for those agencies by 4 to 6 percent, and let them decide where in their programs to put money.
Senate President Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) says he can no longer support that.
“If you don’t have a willing participant in the governor’s office I think it makes it very hard to trim in the areas that Kurt and we would like to see greater efficiency,” said Dempsey. “What would happen potentially is the governor would make cuts in areas that are very harmful to the people that we are trying to serve.”
Without Dempsey’s support, Schaefer’s position to negotiate with House budget leaders is significantly weaker.
Republicans want to get the budget to the governor by the end of next week, so that if he vetoes or withholds proposed spending, the legislature will have time to consider an override.