A $22-and-a-half billion spending blueprint for the coming fiscal year has been approved by the legislature and sent to Governor Blunt.

The debate grew noisy in the House, but was quiet in the Senate as the legislature put the final touches on the budget which begins July 1 st . Republicans in the House earlier had brushed aside harsh criticism from Democrats on the education bills. Spending plans for public schools and state colleges and universities were approved and sent to the Senate, which quickly picked up the bills and approved them.

On Wednesday, Democrats again lashed into Republicans, this time harshly criticizing spending bills that pay for health, mental health and social services. The mental health budget, contained in HB 2010 , totals $1.15 billion. Democrats say that’s not enough to provide the breadth of services needed for the mentally ill or to pay those who work in the state’s mental health facilities.

Democrats reserved their harshest criticism for HB 2011 , which contains spending for MO HealthNet, the new name for Medicaid. That budget bill totals nearly $7 billion, but Democrats argue the state has the money to restore the Medicaid cuts approved by Republicans in 2005.

Approval of both bills came on strictly party line votes.

Though the House debate featured sharp partisan barbs, the Senate gave quick approval to the budget bills without rancor, often without any debate at all.

The budget sent to Governor Blunt totals less than the document he proposed to the legislature. Concerns about the economic downturn, both nationally and in Missouri, led lawmakers to cut nearly $500 million from Blunt’s proposal.

The state operating budget is contained in HB 2001 to HB 2013

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)