Missouri lawmakers have sent a nearly $25 billion budget to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. However, he's not happy with how the Republican-led General Assembly pulled portions of it together.
In order to fund several state programs in the budget, including one that aids developmentally disabled children, House and Senate Republicans chose to fund them by passing a separate bill that eliminates a tax credit for low-income seniors who rent their homes. The move was condemned by several Democrats, including State Representative Genise Montecillo of St. Louis County.
"My seniors are concerned," Montecillo said. "They're not trying to put this tax credit into (their) savings accounts, as some have insinuated, they’re waiting to pay for their medication – they need this."
House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl, a Republican from Town and Country, argued that it was the Governor who called for getting rid of the senior renters' tax break, also known as the "circuit breaker," earlier in the session, and that the FY2014 state budget was built on the proposal.
"The Governor's budget proposal was balanced on the approximately $57 million in revenue that would be freed up by the elimination of this renter's credit," Diehl said. "The Governor's own tax credit review commission recommended the elimination of the credit."
But in a statement released Thursday, Governor Nixon accused Republicans of pitting senior citizens against children, and said that he only favored eliminating the tax break if lawmakers also passed reforms to the whole tax credit system. That has not happened yet.
Also, the House and Senate passed legislation that will fund the Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicles division for only eight months, because the agency continues to scan and store source documents of driver's license applicants. GOP leaders say if Revenue officials end the practice, they'll provide the rest of the funding in next year's supplemental budget. State Representative Jeff Roorda, a Democrat from Barnhart, blasted the move.
"This is bureaucratic euthanasia," Roorda said. "We're putting a pillow over the face of this department and trying to suffocate it, in retaliation for some perceived wrongdoing that is still in question."
House Budget Chairman Rick Stream (R, Kirkwood) told the chamber that what they did is not new. He says last year they funded two government divisions for eight months, one in Social Services and the other in the Department of Corrections, and then gave those divisions the rest of their funding in this year's supplemental budget. Earlier this week, Governor Nixon said he would be forced to lay off state workers unless lawmakers fully funded the Department of Revenue.
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