The state House has approved a $26.6-billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The House’s proposal now goes to the Senate.

Because legislative budget makers disagreed with Governor Jay Nixon (D) on an estimate of how much revenue Missouri will receive in the next fiscal year, House budget makers propose spending up to their projection, then propose appropriations out of a new surplus revenue fund any amounts higher.

The spending plan includes a $122-million increase for K-12 education out of general revenue, with another $156-million possible out of the surplus revenue fund.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) outlines some key items in the House’s proposed budget (courtesy; Jonathan Lorenz, Missouri House Communications):

During Thursday’s discussion in the chamber, House Democrats offered their strongest criticism of the two-tiered approach.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

“Underestimating revenue means that the $156-million recommended by the Governor for the foundation formula will not be distributed to local school districts until everything else in the state budget is funded this year,” said Representative Margo McNeil (D-Florissant). “It means that money will not be available for this school you. You cannot budget for something you don’t know that you will receive. Underestimating means that Missouri school districts will plan less and will achieve less.”

McNeil was critical of the House budget having a 1-percent decrease in the number of state employees and the change from a 3-percent raise in state employee pay partway through the year recommended by the Governor to a 1-percent increase.

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) says the revenue projections used by House budget makers are more realistic.

“The Governor brought us a budget based on pixie dust predictions and long shot legislation.”

The proposal does not include federal money for the expansion of Medicaid. Republicans saying accepting that federal money would increase the national debt and continue to put money into an inefficient program. Democrats say expansion would extend health care to hundreds of thousands of Missourians and would free up more money in the budget for other needs such as education.