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State Senate adds additional $4 billion to budget


The Missouri House and Senate must hash out a compromise after the Senate added $4 billion to the state budget that the House passed.

The bills will now head to a conference committee -- a temporary committee meant to settle differences in legislation that passed both chambers. The budget covers things ranging from infrastructure improvements to education and health department needs.

"This is, in my opinion, is a responsible budget that put in place again transformative investments not just in infrastructure but in education and teacher pay," said Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Springfield Republican who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"Infrastructure, education and workforce development," Hough said. "The things that in the long-term return value to the state."

Some big additions to the budget by the Senate include:

  • $2.8 billion to widen Interstate 70 across the state.
  • $81 million for pre-K programs.
  • $7 million for teacher pay.
  • $4.5 million for state aid to libraries.
  • $460 million to raise Department of Mental Health direct service employees' pay to $17/hour
  • $300 million for a new psychiatric hospital in Kansas City.

Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Manchester) said the House needs to get its priorities right.

"We're the lowest teacher salaries in the nation," Lavender said. "We are close to the lowest in what we pay for education. How do we expect to see leaders of our future when we place such monetary limitations on education.

"Recognizing as we invest in people of the state, people of the state do better," Lavender said. "I think you'll see that in the childcare and the pre-K in how and what, the Senate did."

The money put toward I-70 would be used to widen and expand the highway throughout the entire state instead of just the Columbia and suburban areas of St. Louis and Kansas City.

The deadline for both chambers to pass the same budget is about a week away -- May 5.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics

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Ethan Heinz


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