Senate approval of a $23 billion budget sets up negotiations with the House over the state spending plan for the next fiscal year. The House has requested conference committee meetings with the Senate. The two chambers have three weeks to reach a compromise.

 

Gov. Nixon submitted his budget in January, and then asked lawmakers to cut $500 million from it. The House cut $224 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee increased those cuts to $506 million. The total cuts approved settled at around $450 million.

The full Senate restored $37.4 million to pay teachers earning Career Ladder money this year. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), though, points out Career Ladder has only a one-year reprieve.

“They are to be paid for the work that they’re doing presently in the ’09-10 school year,” Mayer says. “And after that, the funding won’t be there for Career Ladder.”

Career Ladder pays teachers extra for extra work. It is paid in arrears. Teachers earning Career Ladder pay this school year are relying on the legislature to fund it in the next budget year. The program will not receive funding thereafter.

Another move by the Senate might be more controversial in the House. The Senate restored $14.7 million to higher education to uphold Nixon’s agreement with college officials that they would not raise tuition if they didn’t suffer budget cuts of more than around 5%.

House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) wants to know more about the funding; a proposal to remove an exemption from the 2% insurance premium tax enjoyed by managed care providers.

“I don’t think the House has had an opportunity to go in depth and look at the issue and come up with an opinion on it,” Tilley says. “Obviously, I think are some concerns over there about it, but we’ll look at that proposal when it comes over here.”

A budget must be submitted to the governor by May 7th.

Budget bills are HB 2001 through HB 2013.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:30 MP3]