The sun was coming up with four filibustering state senators decided to stand down early this morning, ending a 14-hour talkathon that had blocked a vote on an appropriations bill funding projects that had previously been authorized by the legisalture, some of them several times.
The four originally hoped they could cut $250 million from the bill when they agreed to end an earlier filibuster against the use of federal funds for extended unemployment benefits. But in the weeks since, they learned that kind of cut was inmpossible because the stimulus moneyt hat was their target already had been committed and contracted for. In the end, they settled for $14.5 million in cuts, mostly in weatherization program money—and they might not get even that if the funds are committed before the end of the fiscal year June 30. The House has not weighed in on the final results of their efforts.
Senators Lembke, Schaaf, Nieves, and Kraus had argued in the earlier unemployment funding debate, and argued throughout their overnight filibuster that Missouri should refuse the federal stimulus funds to send a message to Congress to quit overspending.
Senate leader Rob Mayer says other members of the Republican caucus had become “disenchanted” with the four during the filibuster and decided not to go beyhond $14.5 milion in cuts. Senator Brad Lager, who made the motion to cut the funds from the bill and end the filibuster, says the caucus finally “found common ground.” He said it was a case of finding a position nobody loves but most senators could live with.
The senate and the house now face a difficult two days at the end of the week as they are by law required to pass the budget for the next fiscal year by the end of business on Friday. House and Senate negotiators have shown significant differences of opinion about how the $23 billion dollar budget should finally be written.
After the filibuster ended this morning, reporters talked with Lager and Mayer. We thank our colleague Bob Watson of the Jefferosn City News-Tribune for sharing the interviews. Lager is heard first.