If funding is to be restored to a supplemental pension program for more than 2,800 blind in Missouri, it will likely have to happen in the Senate.

House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (photo courtesy, House Communications)

The House spent more than five hours debating the 13 bills that make up the $24 billion Fiscal Year 2013 budget on Tuesday. In the few changes that were made, the $28 million dollars in the supplemental program for the blind was not restored.

Representative Sara Lampe (D-Springfield) offered an amendment to take more than $1.1 million from drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients and put it toward the blind program, but that was defeated.

House Republicans opposed the amendment and it was defeated. Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) said, “It’s often said in the appropriations process that if you lose the fight on the policy, you can always go after the money and de-fund it … This appears to me to be a second crack at defeating something that was overwhelmingly approved and signed by the Governor.”

Other amendments had been drafted that would have restored the funding for the blind by other mechanisms, but none were offered.

Among changes that were made…

An amendment was adopted to take $3 million out of a fund in the budget for the Department of Corrections that some lawmakers said was being misused.

Representative Rodney Schad (R-Versailles) offered the amendment. He said that money was supposed to be used to support vocational enterprises in the corrections system, buying things like farm equipment and seeds and maintaining buildings, but that’s not what it’s been used for.

“We have spent $305,400 on uniforms and clothing, $303,000 for custodial supplies, $781,000 for clothing supplies, $53,000 for laundry and linen supplies, $2,040 for personal care items. Nowhere in the statutes is that allowed.”

Schad says his amendment will require all funds generated by Missouri vocational enterprises stay in that fund.

Mamtek reaches the budget debate

Another amendment was adopted that stemmed from the failed Mamtek project in Moberly.

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) offered the proposal to shuffle around $50,000 of federal money in the Department of Economic Development’s budget to create a position, who would be responsible for making sure it is conducting due diligence investigation into applicants for tax credit benefits.

Barnes, who headed up the House Committee that studied the Mamtek deal, said he doesn’t believe the Department will create such a position on its own. “They haven’t necessarily taken the responsibility for the shortcomings involved in Mamtek that I would have hoped they’d take.”

The House is expected to vote on the budget on Thursday.

AUDIO:  Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey’s statement closing budget debate on the House Floor, 6:05

AUDIO:  Representative Sara Lampe’s statement opening budget debate on the House Floor, 2:43