JEFFERSON CITY | Republican lawmakers continued negotiations Tuesday over the state's $24 billion budget, after a group of conservative Senators successfully blocked a vote on Monday.
Nine Republican Senators stalled a vote on the 13 bills that make up the state's budget, arguing that the current draft is not truly balanced because it relies on more than $200 million from one-time funding sources.
After four hours of discussion Monday, key Senators went in closed-door negotiations that continued until midnight and resumed again this morning.
The nine Senators -- Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield, Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, Brad Lager of Savannah, Jim Lembke of Lemay, Brian Nieves of Washington, Chuck Purgason of Caulfield, Luann Ridgeway of Smithville and Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph -- have a list of about a dozen proposed changes.
Included in that list is eliminating proposed pay raises for state employees and cutting $1 million earmarked for redevelopment in Jefferson County. Also included is the rejection of about $50 million of federal funds to improve the state’s Medicaid computer system.
"I eventually want an updated computer system. But I don't want to cooperate with Obamacare," said Schaaf, pointing to a concern among conservative Republicans that the $50 million would be used to implement health insurance exchanges, a key provision in federal health care law.
Those close to the negotiations said Tuesday afternoon that progress was being made at bridging differences between Republicans, who hold 26 of the Senate's 34 seats.
After passing the Senate, a conference committee would have to work out differences with the House, which approved a very different version of the budget earlier this month.
The deadline for passing a budget is May 11.