Budget progresses in Mo amid school funding feud

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The Senate continued its work on its version of the state’s budget this week.  It has been Senate tradition that while the budget bills are amended and re-worked in the appropriations committee to reflect Senate priorities, they are generally not amended on the Senate Floor.  However, this tradition was broken this week when Senate Education Chairman Gary Romine (R-Farmington) offered a series of amendments on the Senate Floor to fully fund the K-12 school funding formula, which were adopted. Because Missouri has a balanced budget amendment, this means that when the House and Senate meet to work out the differences between the two versions, they will have to find roughly $45 million in savings from elsewhere.

Additionally the Senate acted to move forward with the expansion of Medicaid managed care.  Medicaid recipients in the I70 corridor have been in the managed care system for roughly 20 years.  In 2014, the general assembly moved to include 100% of the state’s Medicaid population in the managed care system.  The expansion is supposed to be fully funded in the 2018 fiscal year budget.  This funding expansion had become the point of much contention in the Senate.  However, Senate Appropriation’s chairman Dan Brown (R-Rolla) was able to fight off an attempt by Senator Rob Schaaf to remove the funding for the expansion.

Update on Senate Functions

As a recap, last week Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) had been using his power as a Senator to slow down several pieces of legislation in anticipation of a fight over the expansion of managed care and ethics reform.  The Senate abruptly adjourned for the week when Senator Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) began inquiring of Schaaf about his relationship with a contract lobbyist.

After a tumultuous weekend in which a non-profit organization associated with Governor Greitens’ campaign attacked Schaaf online and on the radio, Senator Schaaf gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor in which he announced he would be moving out of the home of the lobbyist.  Schaaf also declared he would be holding up all Governor Greitens’ priority legislation until ethics reform, including a disclosure requirement for donors to 501c4 organizations.  Later, Senator Schaaf told the Missouri Times he would not filibuster the budget and would instead focus all his attention on ethics reform.

House Sends Tort Reform to Governor Greitens

On Wednesday the House gave final approve to another tort reform measure.  This measure would make significant changes to time limited demands and reservation of rights.  This is one of several tort reform measures House and Senate Republican leadership hope to send to Governor Greitens before session ends on May 12.

Senate Passes Education Savings Account Legislation

The Senate sent Senator Andrew Koenig’s (R-Manchester) bill to the House.  The bill would allow children who have special needs, have been in foster care or who have a parent who is a member of the military to access education savings accounts. He legislation contains a provision that would clear up some confusion around the state law that allows children in unaccredited districts to transfer to accredited districts in the same or adjoining counties.

House Sends Project Labor Agreement Reform to Governor Greitens

On Thursday the Missouri House gave final approval to legislation that would cause cities and counties in Missouri to lose state funding if they require non-union contractors to pay workers union dues for public projects.  The legislation was a priority of republican leadership in both chambers and Governor Greitens.

Governor Greitens Signs Bill to Create Statewide Ride-sharing Legislation

On Monday roughly 100 people gathered at Saint Charles Community College to watch Governor Eric Greitens sign legislation that allows companies like Lyft and Uber to operate statewide in Missouri. Governor Greitens declared passing this legislation a priority because it loosens unnecessary regulations and will create thousands of jobs across the state.

Greitens Appoints New Supreme Court Judge

Gov. Eric Greitens has selected Judge Brent Powell to fill late Judge Richard Teitelman’s spot on the Missouri Supreme Court.

The Governor’s Commission on Simple Fair and Low Taxes Seeks Input

The Governor’s commission that was appointed to, among other things, study and make recommendations regarding the state’s tax credit program is now officially asking for information from practitioners regarding tax credits you may be receiving.  The opportunity to submit information is in question 1 in this link.