JEFFERSON CITY - Under the cloud of a budget-veto threat not heard in Missouri's Capitol in decades, the Senate is scheduled to begin debate today on the state's operating budget.
The governor backs a budget plan that would require more than $700 million in voter-approved taxes. But Republican leaders have told Holden they would not support any tax increases that require voter approval.
At a press conference Monday, Gov. Bob Holden vowed to veto the Senate's budget proposal.
"We now have three weeks left in the Senate and have seen no credible plan emerge from the Republican leadership," Holden said. "Nothing has emerged but chaos. I'm almost embarrassed for them."
Senate Republican leaders voiced frustration over Holden's veto threat.
"I was disappointed to hear him say that," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman John Russell, R-Lebanon. "I don't think he showed much respect for the system or the Senate's staff that has worked many, many hours to put together a budget that is balanced."
Despite the governor's veto warning, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said lawmakers plan to move ahead with the budget passed by the Appropriations Committee.
"I don't think it really will have much of an effect," Kinder said. "The governor doesn't have a vote in the Senate. He has a vote with his pen to either sign the budget or do something I believe is unprecedented."
Republican leaders are scheduled to release detailed plans today on how to raise the additional $200 million needed to balance their budget proposal. Republicans have said the money could come from eliminating the gambling loss limit, ending some corporate tax breaks and the state treasurer's idea of allowing the state to claim abandoned bank accounts sooner.
The governor has criticized the Republican's for proposing additional cuts to K-12 and higher education beyond what his budget recommends. However, the governor's plan relies entirely on voters approving his $700 million tax package. This package would include the $279 million tobacco tax increase narrowly rejected by voters last November.
As the legislative session winds to a close, Kinder said he expects the governor to continue attacking the Senate's plan.
"It appears that after the holiday weekend the [governor's] artillery has been wheeled into position to begin firing at us again," he said.