Residents of the 157th House District in Lawrence County can hear from the candidates seeking to represent them during two debates this week.
Debates between Democrat Charles Dake and Republican Mike Moon will be held at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Monett Chamber of Commerce and at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at the MARC building in Mount Vernon.
The two are vying in a special election April 2 to fill the legislative seat vacated when Gov. Jay Nixon named state Rep. Don Ruzicka, of Mount Vernon, to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole. Dake, a Miller veterinarian, filled the post briefly before he was defeated by Ruzicka. Moon has a farm near Ash Grove and works at a Springfield hospital. He ran twice unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Congress from Missouri’s 7th District.
The Missouri General Assembly is on spring break this week. Debate is to start next week on House bills proposed to compose the state budget.
The spending measures were recommended by the House Budget Committee. Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, is vice chairman of the panel.
Flanigan on Friday said the bills propose state spending for fiscal 2014 at $24.7 million, less than the $25 million proposed by Nixon. The plan also lacks allocations that would add 300,000 people to the state’s Medicaid rolls — a move being pushed by the governor and supported by many business and hospital groups.
Before being named vice chairman of the Budget Committee, Flanigan was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Senior Services, which oversaw funding for the biggest chunk of the state budget. Flanigan said he attended meetings this year of all the appropriations committees that recommend spending in different areas of state government.
“They did a lot of work in terms of bringing people in to get a clear view of what’s going on, and Rick Stream (committee chairman) also brought in a lot of different viewpoints and still managed to get a consensus,” Flanigan said.
One bill was introduced calling for Medicaid expansion, but it was voted down before it reached the Budget Committee, the lawmaker said. Flanigan said he expects more discussion on the proposed expansion later in the year.
“I’m all for the discussion; whatever happens, it needs to be transparent,” he said. “But I’m not in favor of anything that could create such a huge expense for the state down the road.”
Flanigan said he was successful in getting proposed spending hikes for the senior Meals on Wheels program and local public health departments. The plan includes an increase of nearly $200 million in spending on elementary and secondary education, an increase of more than $300 million to the Department of Mental Health, and an additional $100 million for the Department of Public Safety.
Flanigan said the Senate will have more current revenue and spending estimates when it begins its budget work, and the final plan will be a compromise between the two chambers.