As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, much of my focus over the past few weeks has been on the process of crafting the state’s budget. We completed our committee work on the 13 bills that make up the state’s core spending plan this week and the full Senate will begin work on the bills next week. This is a particularly difficult year, and we have faced many challenges already as these bills have moved through the legislative process.
Work on the budget formally began this past December, when we held public hearings on state spending. After the governor introduced his budget proposal in January, the House began its work on crafting the bills. The House budget committee and the entire House had to approve the bills before they move to the Senate.
Since the governor’s budget proposal in January, the fiscal situation in our state has declined further than expected. Revenue collections continue to fall, leaving us with tough choices to make. I was disappointed that the budget that was voted out of the House was out of balance and made a minimum amount of cuts. The House also chose to include $300 million in federal funding in their budget planning—funding that it turns out the state may not receive. The Senate was forced to essentially start from scratch to review the 13 bills and find approximately $500 million in cuts. Every cut that we have to make will directly affect state services, and it is a very difficult task.
When the budget bills are brought to the floor next week, I know there will be heated discussion and debate. I am confident, however, that the Senate will complete work on a balanced budget based on the numbers we currently have available. Many of the cuts that have to be made are not painless, but they are necessary in order to keep Missouri spending within our means.
Once the Senate completes work on our version of the budget, the differences that we have with the House’s version will be ironed out through the conference committee process. Once the House and Senate agree on a final plan, it is sent to the governor. The General Assembly’s constitutional deadline for completion of the state operating budget is one week before the end of the legislative session, which falls on May 7th this year. I will continue to keep you informed on the progress of Missouri’s budget in the weeks ahead.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Barnitz disappointed House left tough part of budget cuts to Senate
In his weekly report, Sen. Frank Barnitz D-Lake Spring, updated constituents on the budget process: