Legislation to put $4 million towards helping some of the state’s blind transition off of a supplemental program eliminated in the House budget proposal has advanced out of Committee.
The bill is sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City). It would eliminate the tax exemption for equipment and supplies for the newspaper industry. It would take the revenue from that tax and use it to offer assistance with health care costs to blind individuals who are not eligible for MO HealthNet benefits but qualify for the blind pension.
Silvey filed the bill while the budget was still in Committee, after cutting the larger $28 million dollar supplemental program that benefits more than 2,800 blind individuals in the state. Silvey says those individuals already have income, and applicants to the program are not means tested. His budget proposal put that $28 million dollars into Higher Education, which Governor Jay Nixon (D)had cut $106 million from in his proposed budget.
A budget amendment offered by Columbia representative Chris Kelly puts another $2 million toward transitioning those individuals.
Democrats and the Governor have criticized the program’s elimination, with some saying the Senate is likely to restore it.