A bill that would give hundreds of millions of dollars for renovating and constructing buildings for the University of Missouri and other colleges across the state is now dead. The bonding bill would have dedicated $1.2-billion to Fulton State Mental Hospital, the Capitol, and state parks. It passed the House last week. But with only three days to go in the session, the bill hit a wall in the Senate.
Lawmakers tell ABC 17 News the projects that were included in this bill have needed repairs for five years. House and Senate leaders understand the importance of passing this, but they differ on when it needs to be passed. House leaders believe it needs to be approved this year, but the Senate doesn’t believe it has to be passed by the end of the week.
The Fifth State Bonding bill had bi-partisan support in the House when it passed. It was sponsored by the House speaker and Representative, (D)-Columbia, Chris Kelly. It passed the House with a 136 to 23 vote.
Lawmakers tell us this is more than just fixing up buildings, it puts people to work.
“It’s way more jobs than all the rest of the jobs bills we’ve done here in the last six years combined, way more,” Kelly says.
The bill isn’t going anywhere in the Senate. Senate President Pro Tem, (R)-St. Peters, Tom Dempsey wouldn’t go on-camera with me, but says there isn’t enough time. He says the bill is too complex to pass within a week. It hasn’t even been assigned to a committee yet.
Dempsey doesn’t believe it has to be passed this year. That’s because if it does get passed, it will go to the ballot in 2014.But Kelly is hoping this doesn’t come back to hurt the state.
“I wish the Senate were more interested in the current state of the economy, but it’s time we can take advantage of the interest rates, behave like a business and get our work done here,” Kelly explains.
This bill is going to be a priority in the House and Senate next session. Kelly tells us there will be tweaks made to it, but he isn’t sure where those will happen.