Members of the Missouri House have approved the $23 billion state budget and sent it on to the Senate, with Republicans and Democrats still squabbling over the issue of tax credits.

Republicans accuse Democrats of coming to the anti-tax credit parade late.

Last year, a few Senate Republicans made opposing tax credits a crusade. House Democrats have picked up the cause now, sending Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, to do some research into the voting record of Democratic leader Paul LeVota on tax credits.

“I pulled the records since we’ve done economic development bills, since 2007, and he (LeVota) voted for all of them. Not only has he voted for all of them, so has his leadership,” Tilley told reporters. “And so to stand up and say, ‘I don’t know where all these tax credits come from and we’re giving away all this money’ it’s completed disingenuous and borders on a lie.”

“They’re mischaracterizing everything,” LeVota replied when asked about Tilley’s accusation. “I have supported economic development things in the past.”

LeVota added that he never said that all tax credits are bad.

“My point is, if you’re going to have us cut education, you better re-examine those,” LeVota said. “And that has not been moved in the House, whatsoever.”

The House approved an amendment during the budget debate that removed a proposed $105 million increase in spending on public schools. That would have paid for the next step in the seven-year phase-in of the new school funding formula. The amendment passed on a close vote. It essentially freezes school funding at current levels.

Democrats further accuse Republicans of focusing on political efforts at the beginning of this legislative session, instead of taking a long, hard look on the effectiveness of the tax breaks given over the years.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]