On some budget votes, district takes precedent over party

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The closest votes Thursday occurred in the House on HBs 10 and 11 yesterday during the approval of the state budget conference bills.

Both of the bills deal with the funding of social services, which caused consternation over the session, because of the change in the circuit breaker policy to remove renters. The move would save roughly $50 million but kick thousands of the elderly and disabled off of the tax credit to help pay rent. The two bills also would have lowered the standard of care for in-home services, affecting the elderly and disabled again.

Several Southeast Missouri Republicans voted against the two measures, diverging from their party and House leadership. Among them was Rep. Holly Rehder, who has reportedly eyed running for Speaker of the House after current Speaker Todd Richardson becomes term-limited after last year’s session.

Rehder, R-Sikeston, said while she recognized the hard work put in by the budget committee, voting in favor of those bills would directly harm her district and not just its ailing seniors.

“The southeast region, we use a disproportionate amount of those services compared to the rest of the state,” she said. “Moving it from 27 [points] to 24 puts us to losing about 1300 jobs in the Southern bootheel counties. For the Bootheel reps, we have the clients that are losing their services, because we do come from the poorest counties, but we’ll also lose a lot of jobs.”

Rep. Tila Hubrecht, R-Dexter, spoke on the floor, echoing some of the same concerns she had for people in her district. She spoke from her experience as a former nurse.

“I cannot tell you how many people i’ve been at their bedside while they were sick and how many people’s hands I’ve held when they died,” Hubrecht said Thursday. “What we do here has a direct impact on people’s lives. Sick people need medicine, sick people need health care… I’m concerned about the cuts that are proposed in this.”

HB 11 was passed 88-68, and HB 10 was passed 98-57. Democrats almost entirely voted against the measures, but several Republicans, including Southeast Missouri Republicans, joined the minority on those votes.

However, after the events in the Senate last night which changed HCB 3 to keep the circuit breaker tax credit funded. Rehder said she was hopeful those changes would maintain care for those living in the Bootheel region.