JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri House formally approved a $ 46 billion spending plan Thursday amid predictions that major parts of the blueprint will be rewritten in the Senate.
A survey of GOP members in the Legislature’s upper chamber showed most siding with a budget request by Republican Gov. Mike Parson to boost starting teacher salaries, which rank among the worst in the nation.
The House left most of that money out of their proposal, instead leaving nearly $ 2 billion unspent in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Late. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he believes his colleagues will set money aside to make teacher pay more competitive.
“I would anticipate it would be closer to what the governor wanted,” Hegeman said. “It seems to make sense to me. I think there is general support for that. ”
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Late. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, said, as a former school teacher, she sees the need to give starting teachers higher wages. The current base pay for a beginning teachers is $ 25,000. Parson wants it to rise to $ 38,000.
“Our teachers deserve a raise. I get it. A lot of our teachers are out there hustling with second jobs on the weekends, ”Gannon said.
However, she said the state also must address the effect of boosting the salaries of beginning teachers on the pay for more experienced teachers.
“You can not have a new teacher making the same as one who has been in the classroom for 10 years. We’ll need to figure that out, ”Gannon said.
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said the current starting wage has turned some potential teachers away from a classroom career.
“You really have to feel called to do it,” Rowden said Thursday, adding that increasing state funding to assist local districts is “the right thing to do.”
Late. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, also said he wants to see the Senate restore or increase the amount Parson had sought.
“We’ve got 66,000 teachers in this state and I hear stories every day about how they are using their own personal money to buy school supplies and classroom supplies,” Hough said.
Hough also is proposing a plan to give Missourians $ 500 checks using the surplus money that is in the budget.
“The House left almost $ 2 billion in spending authority on the table. I do not believe people pay taxes so the government can sit on it and let it languish, ”Hough said.
On Thursday, the GOP-led House approved their version of the spending plan that includes nearly $ 2 billion in federal funding to help K-12 schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, including $ 75 million set aside to repay families for tutoring and other expenses aimed at helping students recover from learning losses due to closures.
The House plan also includes $ 444 million for childcare services in the state. Public colleges and universities would get a 5.4% budget increase, not including billions of dollars for construction projects on every campus.
The House also reduced the amount of federal stimulus money sought by Parson from $ 3.2 billion to $ 2.2 billion.
The state’s transportation budget will add $ 100 million to upgrade low-volume rural roads and $ 75 million for a cost-sharing program with cities and counties. The budget also includes an additional $ 2.4 million to restore Amtrak to twice-daily service between St. Louis and Kansas City.
The spending plan also includes $ 3.2 million to help pay for the demolition of abandoned, city-owned houses in St. Louis. Louis.
Rope. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, again reminded his House colleagues that they had left $ 1.8 billion in general revenue unspent.
He warned the House that the Senate would likely spend that money without input from the lower chamber.
“We’ve got a lot of money folks. We can not just sit on it. It’s not doing us any good sitting in the treasury, ”Merideth said.
Some Republicans countered that the budget was bloated with federal dollars.
Rope. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, suggested that some of the largesse could be returned to citizens.
“The amount of spending we’re talking about here is just incomprehensible to the average person,” Lovasco said. “This is just way too big.”
The Legislature faces a May 7 deadline to finish the budget.
Posted at 1:45 pm Thursday, April 7th.