Missouri House passes $26 billion budget

GOP legislators vote down amendment to expand Medicaid

By Steven Anthony

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House passed its version of the state’s budget last week after a long debate about education and Medicaid expansion.

On Tuesday, House Republicans voted down an amendment that would have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. That amendment came under fire from many House Republicans, including Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. They said the existing system is already broken.

“The decisions we make today are going to have impacts on future General Assemblies, on future citizens of the state of Missouri, and they’re not all going to be positive if we expand Medicaid,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a broken system, it needs fixing … but expanding it and just hoping things are going to get better for everybody isn’t the way we need to go.”

Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis County, disagreed with Fitzpatrick. She said during a floor speech that Republicans supposedly fixed the system 10 years ago, but did not actually fix anything.

“If it’s broken, who broke it?” McCreery asked. “And if it’s broken, you (Republicans) have a super-majority in this chamber. Why can’t you fix it? You can do anything you want.”

The House spent a good deal of time debating the state’s formula for funding education. Democrats said Republicans are underfunding the formula because they’re giving away millions of dollars a year in tax breaks.

“As long as we continue to see tax cuts and increases in tax credits and nothing done to increase revenues, we’re going to be able to fund our foundation formula,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Gail McCann-Beatty, D-Kansas City.

But Republicans fired back, saying they put more money into the formula than Gov. Jay Nixon did in his budget.

“I think it’s a bit disheartening for folks to get up and say that we’re not doing something while offering no real, relevant, functional solutions by which to do the things that they’re speaking about,” said Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia. “It’s really, really easy to lob bombs. It’s a little bit harder to govern.”

All 13 House-passed budget bills now move to the Senate.