Money matters are before the Missouri House, but not everyone is happy with the process taken to move budget bills to the House floor for debate.
House Democrats criticized Republicans for rushing budget bills to the floor for debate and also for ignoring Governor Nixon’s recommendation to use $800 million in federal economic stimulus money to avoid budget cuts.
The top Democrat in the House, Paul LeVota of Independence, predicted an unproductive debate. "We will be spinning our wheels for the next two days," LeVota said at the beginning of House floor debate, "because the process was not thorough, it was not open to public debate."
LeVota said the House Budget Committee should have taken up the budget bills as proposed by the Nixon Administration and made amendments to those bills. Instead, the House Budget Committee controlled by Republicans wrote their own budget bills. Nixon is a Democrat.
House Budget Committee member, Democrat Rachel Bringer of Palmyra, complained about providing budget bills to members the morning it hits the floor for debate.
"It’s absurd to expect the members of this House who didn’t happen to have the privilege of serving on Budget or on Rules to know what is in 12 or 13 budget bills when they just got them this morning," Bringer said during floor debate. "It’s ridiculous."
Bringer said the process set up false choices.
"We need to do better," Bringer stated, "particularly in these times of great need and distress in our state."
House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet, a Republican from Wildwood, declined to respond to the charges. He stated during floor debate that he would respond later.
House rules have limited debate on the $23 billion dollar state budget to 10 hours; five for Democrats and five for Republicans. Budget bills are HB 1 – 13 .