JEFFERSON CITY - Columbia lost a vote on Missouri's House Budget Committee as Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, resigned from the committee on March 10.
Graham's resignation from the committee, which determines the House's budget proposals, came just before the committee votes on its budget for next year.
Graham said he had been working with House leadership to find a suitable replacement for a few weeks. He said the committee needed more freshmen Democratic representatives who wouldn't be gone due to term limits after this session.
The move allows the committee to begin with some experienced Democrats next year to insure a smooth transition and also increases the committee's diversity, Graham said. Rep. Theodore Hoskins, D-St. Louis County, a member of the Missouri Black Legislative Caucus, took Graham's place.
Another Columbia Democrat who serves on the committee, Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, said she is sorry to see him leave.
"Chuck has been a strong voice for university funding," she said.
Riback Wilson said Graham's resignation gives Columbia one less vote in the Budget Committee.
"Unfortunately, the decisions that are made sometimes revolve around competing views for different regions and different districts," Riback Wilson said.
Graham said Hoskins is a "UM system advocate," so the committee did not lose votes that would support MU funding because the funds are appropriated as a lump sum to the entire system. Columbia could end up with no representatives on the Budget Committee once he and Riback Wilson are gone because of term limits, he said.
Graham said he will work with Hoskins to help him understand the thick budget books he has handed over to him.
"It's important for some of us to help mentor some of these other folks," Graham said.
The idea of replacing himself on the committee with a freshman Democrat was his own, Graham said. Until now, the only freshman Democrat on the committee was Rep. Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, he said.
Four freshmen Republicans serve on the committee.
House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County, said she purposely placed some freshmen on the committee to provide continuity into the years ahead.
House Budget Committee Chairman Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, said he appreciated Graham's work on the committee, even if the two didn't always agree.