JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the Senate prepares to consider the full budget on the floor this week, the House passed a new appropriations package dealing with improvement projects.
HBs 17, 18, and 19 would each appropriate more than $200 million in funding for capital improvement projects for various departments, universities, and the statehouse. The bills were perfected Tuesday morning and third read following a recess.
Rep. Dirk Deaton, the House Budget Committee vice chairman, presented the bills before the body Tuesday morning, highlighting the need for updates across the state.
“It says something about us — it says something about us as a people, about the type of government that we have, about what we aspire to as a state,” Deaton said. “If you want to talk about deferred maintenance, look no further than this building.”
The bill would fund interior renovations for the statehouse, from replacing the carpet in both chambers to more than $4 million in renovations for the building’s plumbing and plaster. More than $1.2 million would also go toward renovating the fountain located on the Capitol’s South Lawn.
The House voted to waive House Rule 44, which requires bills to sit on the calendar for a full legislative day before being taken up, at the behest of Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher. The bills were considered in committee Monday.
Rep. Peter Merideth, the ranking minority member of the Budget Committee, stood to voice his opposition to HB 18, pointing to the lack of funding for Medicaid expansion in the budget as a more necessary expense.
“There’s $100 million that is going unspent here in general revenue. We’re still hearing this ridiculous message that we can’t spend $100 million right now for Medicaid expansion,” Merideth said. “I am sick of talking about this, but as long as we sit here and refuse to fund our constitutional obligation that means more to Missouri than literally anything we could do, I have to stand here and say no.”
House Democrats spearheaded multiple attempts to fund the expansion on the floor, but none passed. The Senate Appropriations Committee also shot funding down after the vote split down the middle on an amendment last week.
The Appropriations Committee spent last week deliberating over the budget, approving each bill for further consideration from the full body. The upper chamber is set to take up the more than $34 billion package Wednesday.
This story has been updated.