Budget work in the House went smoothly, for the most part.
But partisanship can be held down only so long. Debate on the House floor veered from discussion on how best to spend state tax revenue into proposals to strip money from state officeholders.
It began with an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, a Democrat from St. Louis, to strip $500,000 from the travel budget of Governor Nixon, also a Democrat. Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, quickly jumped on the idea. House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, a Republican from Kansas City, endorsed the idea.
“We’ve got a pretty simply choice here,” Silvey told the body during House floor debate. “Do we let the governor continue flying around excessively on the state plane or do we help kids in inner city St. Louis who need a leg up?”
With Republican backing, the amendment easily won approval.
Not to be outdone by the Republicans, House Democrats took aim at Auditor Tom Schweich, a Republican.
Rep. Sara Lampe, a Democrat from Springfield, backed an amendment to strip $185,000 from the Auditor’s office to beef up Parents As Teachers. Lampe contended the Auditor shouldn’t receive the money, allocated to pay four salaries of positions left vacant by the previous auditor, who happened to be a Democrat.
“I have a problem with giving more money to do the same job,” Lampe told colleagues. “I also have a problem giving more money in a year when we don’t have any money.”
Democrats argued that everyone in state government is tightening their belts and the Auditor’s office should as well.
The dueling amendments discouraged Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia).
“We know that the amendment is a shot at the Auditor. We know that the attack on the governor’s office was a shot at the governor,” Kelly said. “Now, we ought to stop this.”
The amendment stripping money from the governor’s office passed. The auditor amendment failed.