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Last-minute Missouri House budget heads to governor

State of Missouri filled with hundred dollar bills
Helistockter - stock.adobe.com

Missouri's House of Representatives approved a budget of about $51 billion just before a Friday 6 p.m. deadline.

Gov. Mike Parsons has labeled it the "largest supplemental budget in Missouri's history," and can either accept it as-is or make cuts.

Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, the House budget chair, expressed satisfaction for managing to boost funding for education and infrastructure without risking budget shortfalls. He mentioned a surplus of more than $1.5 billion in general revenue, to be used for potential growth or future projects.

"We've got a balanced budget, we've got less spending than we did have last year, and we've got a healthy rainy day fund," Smith outlined. "I think that package is what I'm most proud of."

Smith is especially pleased with the infrastructure spending for Interstate 44 repairs but expressed disappointment in the budgeting process, due to the lack of a conference committee and challenges in the final weeks. Still, he described the final budget as "strong."

Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, the Senate Minority Leader, told reporters a special session could be needed due to the budget being "rushed" and the possibility of other issues coming up.

Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, the House Minority Leader, also shared her dissatisfaction with the budgeting process.

"We cannot allow the 'new normal' for spending taxpayer money to become just two guys writing a budget in secret and then jamming it through the process at the very last minute, full of pork and appeasing lobbyists," Quade stressed.

Quade described the budget as being completed in the "technical sense" but feels lawmakers deliberately low-balled spending, as several are competing in Republican primaries for statewide offices. She pointed out it is a strategy allowing them to claim credit for cutting overall state spending.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform.
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