The House has approved its version of the state budget for the coming fiscal year; a $22.4 billion dollar spending blueprint. Budget work now shifts to the Senate. House leaders expect a few battles with the Senate over spending priorities.
House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) expects the usual give-and-take once the Senate completes its revisions of the House budget plan.
"In some cases the Senate may not have any heartburn about our positions and go with us," Icet told reporters after the House approved the budget, "In others, there may be major pushback."
Icet says he will fight for the House positions, even positions he doesn’t favor, such as a shift of two million dollars from hospitals to pay for physician-ordered therapies in the Medicaid budget. Democrats convinced enough Republicans to join them to amend the House Budget Committee recommendations during House floor debate.
House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) says the Republican majority has a near obligation to fight to keep the amendment in the budget bills. Jetton says he feels like it was a team effort, both from Republicans and Democrats, to put the budget together.
"We owe it to them (Democrats) to go in there and fight from a House perspective as a House team," Jetton said during the post-budget news conference.
Both Jetton and Icet expect a battle over Access Missouri, the college student scholarship program. The Senate has viewed scholarships in the same light as the House. Jetton says the House will fight hard to hold the line on a $100 million allocation to Access Missouri.
The main features of the budget approved by the House are a $120 million increase in the funding of public schools, $300 million more for Medicaid (now known as MO HealthNet) and the increase $100 million for Access Missouri.