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Missouri legislature meets constitutional deadline, sends $52B budget to governor

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(The Center Square) – Missouri legislators met a constitutional deadline on Friday to approve the state’s budget for fiscal year 2025.

The Senate approved the approximately $52 billion budget late Thursday and the House passed the 17 appropriations bills before adjourning Friday afternoon. Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s recommended budget was approximately $52 billion.

“There’s always a lot of sensationalizing that happens on the Senate floor,” Appropriations Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, and a candidate for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, told reporters on Thursday. “And I think what is reflected in the budget bills that we just passed are things that matter to folks when they get off work and they go home and they sit around their kitchen table and they talk about what they would like to see their state government working on.”

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said Republican filibusters and delays getting the budget from the House were challenging.

“It’s been a difficult year in regards of floor time and getting from one place to another,” Rizzo said. “I don’t think last week helped at all for people to really digest the budget. … I think the house put us in a really tough position by getting the budget a week later than we normally would have.”

Hough said he and House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, and a candidate for the GOP nomination for treasurer, worked together to get the budget passed by the deadline.

“Negotiating is not a bad thing,” Hough said. “I don’t know how we’ve gotten into this world where everyone just has to fight and issue an ultimatum and say, ‘Over my dead body will we ever do your thing before I get 110% of what I want!’ That’s not good policy. It’s not good appropriating.”

House Democrats were critical of how the budget was passed in both chambers.

“As we discussed at length on the floor, this year’s budget process was a complete disaster and a terrible precedent to be set,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield and a candidate for her party’s nomination for governor. “We cannot allow the new normal for spending taxpayer money to become just two guys running a budget in secret and then jamming it through the process at the very last minute, full of pork and appeasing lobbyists but the most vulnerable among us and everyday citizens not being included.”

Smith and Speaker Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, emphasized this year’s budget didn’t grow and a $1.5 billion surplus remains.

“So we are not growing the budget, but we are continuing to invest in critical resources for infrastructure, education, healthcare and public safety,” Plocher said. “… It’s been a collaborative effort between the Senate and the House and the governor’s office to put this together.”

Smith said the budget can withstand reductions in revenues from tax cuts passed in previous years.

“I’m happy the budget is balanced and that our ongoing expenditures are fitting within our revenue estimates,” Smith said. “And so we are focusing on sustainability. We’re not setting ourselves up for budget shortfalls.”

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