The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 8, 2010

Missouri: Senate panel cuts $500 million from proposed budget

The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Senate committee declared Thursday that it has sliced more than $500 million from Missouri’s proposed budget for next year — meeting a target set by Gov. Jay Nixon to bring it in balance.

The Senate Appropriations Committee wrapped up its work after making hundreds of individual spending cuts, ranging from just a few dollars for some programs to tens of millions for others. Among the biggest and most contentious cuts Thursday was the elimination of a $37 million program that pays teachers extra money for after-school tutoring.

“We’re in a horrendous economic time, and we’re having to do things we normally would not support and would not want to do,” said committee chairman Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter.

The governor had proposed a $23.86 billion operating budget in January for Missouri’s 2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1. But he said last month that his plan needed to be trimmed by about $500 million because of declining state tax revenues and uncertain federal funding.

Senate committee staff said Thursday that the panel had cut $506 million of general revenue expenses. Nixon’s administration backed many of those cuts.

“Gov. Nixon appreciates the Senate rolling up their sleeves and making some real progress on the budget,” said gubernatorial spokesman Jack Cardetti.

But Nixon hopes to reverse one cut in particular. The Senate reduced higher education funding by more than 7 percent — jeopardizing a deal brokered by Nixon in which colleges and universities agreed to freeze tuition so long as they weren’t cut by more than about 5 percent.

The budget is to go before the full Senate next week. It must then be reconciled with a version already approved by the House that is about $200 million smaller than Nixon’s plan. Lawmakers must pass a final version by May 7.

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