Everything is on the table as our legislators return to Jefferson City with only five days left to decide how to spend 24-billion dollars in the next fiscal year.
House and Senate negotiators have to deal with some strongly-held positions taken by lawmakers in both chambers. Some senators have wanted to tell their negotiators not to give in on three issues–two of them being budget cuts for Southeast Missouri State University advocated by Cape Girardeau Senator Jason Crowell. St. Joseph Senator Rob Schaaf has tried to force senate negotiators to refuse to discuss those issues. The Senate has taken two million dollars earmarked for SEMO out of the budget. Schaaf had wanted to keep senate negotiators from discussing that issue with the House.
But Senate appropriations chairman Kurt Schaefer of Columbia says ordering senate negotiators to dig in on certain issues is asking for trouble. He calls it “throwing a dart” at the negotiators from the House who would refuse to negotiate on some of their issues—that senators might favor.
Shaefer says the disagreement about money for Southeast Missouri State University is a political disagreement between Crowell and House Speaker Steven Tilley, who put the money in the budget although the university didn’t ask for it.
Friday night, 6 p.m. is the deadline for passing the budget.