The Senate on Thursday gave first-round approval to a stadium bill sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau. The bill, which was weakened by several amendments, would require the state to pay more than $20 million a year toward stadiums and other development projects. The new St. Louis Cardinals baseball stadium would cost $7 million a year for 30 years.
The Senate State Budget Control committee will look at the bill. If the committee passes the bill, it will go before the full Senate for a final vote. The bill would then move to the House.
House and Senate representatives began negotiations to try to work out the differences between each body's budget proposals. The committee reached agreement on several items but remained at odds on how much to increase school funding. House Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, wants a $175 million increase. Senate negotiators support a $100 million increase, saying money is too tight for a larger increase.
The Senate on Thursday delayed debate on a plan to borrow $120 million from the state's Budget Reserve Fund, dubbed the rainy day fund, in order to discuss a stadium bill. Money from this fund would be used to help balance this year's budget, which expires June 30. Unlike federal law, the Missouri state constitution does not only allow appropriations bills to originate in the House. This proposal originated in the Senate.
The House on Thursday approved revenue increasing plans that would raise an estimated $200 million through higher casino taxes and other changes to state tax laws. The House amended the Senate bill, which originally raised $50 million in additional revenue, to four times its amount with the intention that the money go to public schools. Kreider said he doubts the Senate will be receptive to the $200 million proposal but hopes they will agree to more than $50 million.
The House/Senate conference committee will continue resolving differences in their budget proposals. They must submit a final plan to Holden by Friday. If they are unable to resolve their differences, Holden can either make the cuts himself or call a special legislative session.
The House Transportation Committee on Wednesday approved a transportation plan, sponsored by Sen. Morris Westfall, R-Halfway. The plan would raise an estimated $500 million to fund road projects by raising Missouri's general sales tax by three-eights of a cent to 4.6 cents per dollar and raising the gasoline tax by 6 cents to 23 cents per gallon.
The bill on Friday was placed on the House calendar for third reading. This means the bill will be perfected, or put into final form, and then given final vote. Amendments can be proposed and voted on during the perfection process.
The House is expected to give final approval to the transportation bill this week.
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