JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The big news of the week is that the Senate passed the all 13 bills of the state’s $27.8 billion budget, leaving one week to work out the issues before the May 5 deadline.
Missouri’s upper chamber took up the budget just 11 days before the deadline on which the legislature is supposed to have the budget on the governor’s desk, and after two full days, they managed to go through each appropriations bill, filing a number of amendments and passing them through the body.
The major headline from the Senate’s passage of the budget was the foundation formula remaining fully funded by the current standards, approving $45 million in additional funding for K-12 schools on a 19-14 vote.
The House quickly responded, refusing to accept the bills and sending the two chambers to conference. The Senate and House are expected to convene next week for conference, giving them a total of five days to come to terms on the bills.
The House also managed to pass through several bills, including Sen. Bob Onder’s labor reform bill on project labor agreements.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, members pushed through three other appropriations bills and also signed off on a bill granting the state the authority to issue bonds for a new downtown arts campus for UMKC. The deal is a 50-50 agreement, meaning that if private donors can raise $48 million, then the state would match it with bonds.
The Senate also took school choice a step further, passing Sen. Andrew Koenig’s bill that would allow for education savings accounts for children living with disabilities, foster children or children of military families to be used for educational expenses like private school tuition, tutoring, online classes and home schooling.
But a host of bills still awaits passage including the controversial REAL ID bill and the ethics bill passed by the House at the beginning of the legislative session. Sen. Mike Kehoe says that he is still hopeful that an ethics reform bill can make it to the governor’s desk.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.