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Home / AP News Roundup / Missouri Senate advances $46 billion state budget

Missouri Senate advances $46 billion state budget

Missouri senators on Tuesday passed a roughly $46 billion state budget plan bolstered by federal funding that includes extra money for K-12 public school busing and teacher pay raises.

Negotiators now have a little more than a week to hash out differences between the House and Senate’s proposed spending plans before the May 6 deadline to pass a budget.

While the House left billions of dollars in surplus revenue unspent, senators sought to chip away at excess funding.

The Senate version includes $214 million more than the House in funding for public K-12 busing, which Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur said could spare cash-strapped school districts from going to four-day school weeks.

The latest version of the budget also includes about $32 million to help school districts subsidize teacher pay.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson called for pay raises for teachers and state workers to address a labor shortage in part caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other provisions of the budget include a $42 million increase in funding for public four-year colleges and universities compared to this year, as well as a $10 million increase for community colleges.

While Senate Democrats lauded increased spending in the budget plan, Conservative Caucus members condemned it as an expansion of government.

Republican Sen. Bill Eigel called for a moment of silence on the Senate floor for the “death of fiscal conservativism.”

Eigel said the budget includes “every wasteful instance of spending that could be thought of by 34 different members” of the Senate.

The budget also includes a ban on using state spending to reimburse Planned Parenthood, including clinics that do not provide abortions, for health care for low-income Medicaid patients.

Democrats warned that the federal government could pull all of Missouri’s Medicaid funding if Planned Parenthood is unfunded.

“It is going to be a problem for people who are using Planned Parenthood as their provider,” Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp said. “It is even against federal law and the Constitution because we are supposed to allow patients, even low-income patients accessing funding through our Medicaid program, to utilize any willing provider.”