Senate filibuster ends, budget bill cut

An all-night filibuster ended at 6 a.m. Wednesday after the Senate agreed to cut an energy-efficiency project out an appropriations bill for federal stimulus funds.

The bill would re-appropriate federal stimulus money for the next budget year that had been appropriated for this year, but had not yet been spent.

Four fiscal conservatives had filibustered the bill since Tuesday afternoon arguing the state should refuse the federal money because the federal government was broke.

Earlier, Senate leaders had promised to try to find $250 million in the bill that would be cut in return for agreement to allow passage of a bill adding extra weeks to unemployment compensation that was funded by federal funds.

Those cuts, however, were not included in the budget bill that came before the Senate on Tuesday. The filibuster began when the Senate rejected the first amendment offered to strip funds from the bill.

The four senators who filibustered were Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, and Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington.

Roughly $41 million in federal funding had not yet been contracted and the four senators wanted to see that money cut. They said they were concerned that spending the stimulus money would contribute to the federal deficit.

The amendment that ended the filibuster would cut more than $14 million in spending of federal stimulus funds. Most of the cut would be in grants to lower income residents for home weatherization. A smaller cut would be made in funding for a couple of state studies on health care.

The stimulus appropriations bill now goes back to the House. The constitutional deadline for the legislature to finish the budget is Friday.

The the federal stimulus bill includes funding for a variety of projects including Internet broadband expansion in rural areas, transportation projects, economic development projects, school district grants and law enforcement.

– Missouri Digital News