Seven members of the House Budget Committee are going to take a closer look at areas where the budgets for the Departments of Mental Health, Health and Senior Services and Social Services might be reduced.
The Appropriations Committee covering those agencies recommended that New Decision Items within those budgets receive 75% funding. Chairman Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) explained to the Budget Committee Wednesday that his intent was to force a supplemental budget in January when better information is available related to those items, and what funding is still necessary at that time can be provided. Flanigan noted that his committee does not have authority to make cuts.
The Budget Committee has now created a working group that will look at new decision items in the budget bills for those agencies for any places where similar withholds could be made. Representative Jeff Grisamore (R-Lee’s Summit) said the process would help conserve as much money as possible for the “most vulnerable people.”
The members of the working group are Republicans Rick Stream of Kirkwood, Sue Allen of Town and Country, Grisamore and Flanigan and Democrats Chris Kelly of Columbia, Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City and Jeanne Kirkton of Webster Groves.
Kelly says Flanigan’s withholding method is an innovative, interesting idea and he’s anxious to look into it more. “Is it reasonable to hold some money back and put it in the supplemental bill to make sure the money’s being spent correctly and targeted correctly?”
Kirkton says she is concerned for the agencies that might have to deal with those 25% withholds. “If I were a department manager I would be very nervous about it. You hope the supplemental money will be there but there’s always the ‘what if’s’. What if we had another catastrophe, what if that money’s not there, what if revenues don’t come in? We always have to worry.”
Kirkton says supplemental budget bills are expected to come out early next week, so the working group will have to work fast.