JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After nearly 12 hours of debate, the Missouri Senate passed a $50 billion budget early Wednesday morning.
Members spent a majority of the time debating language that would prohibit state government for paying for staff, contractors, training or programs associated with diversity, equity, and inclusion. The provision was offered by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg during discussion on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) $10 billion budget. The amendment would have banned diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives in funding for public schools.
“When we look at some of these programs that deal with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, I don’t think they are right,” Hoskins said. “I think we have some of these concepts that are going on in our state agencies right now, some of these woke concepts.”
The House originally added the language to every budget bill during debate on the floor. When the budget came over to the Senate, the appropriations committee stripped the provision out. When Hoskins first tried to add the language back in putting a blanket ban on state departments using money for diversity training and programs, the amendment was ruled out of order by Senate President, Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.
“The proposed amendment is clearly a violation of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Planned Parenthood versus the Department of Social Services, which clearly states that legislating through appropriation bills violates our state constitution,” Rowden said.
Some Republicans spoke against the motion.
“This will literally erode the very reason why we are here which is the budget process, to say that we don’t have a say how the executive branch exercises the money we appropriate to them,” Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said. “That is for us to dictate what those monies are to be spent upon.”
Hoskins then tried again with narrower language, which is when Democrats stood up on the floor, voicing their opposition.
“I ask myself why is it every single year we end up where there is some sort of idea or amendment that is legislating through the budget process, something that will scare people,” Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said.
“Do you see me?,” Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, question members of the former conservative caucus on the floor. “How come you don’t inquire of me? Why do you only inquire of white Caucasian men?”
When it came time for a vote, nine Republicans sided with nine Democrats in voting against the measure. After the 14-18 defeat, some Republicans spoke in opposition of the $50 billion spending plan, saying it’s against their conservative principles.
“Ten billion dollars, ten billion dollars in new decision items,” Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, said. “I don’t know if I’ll find a single thing in this $10 billion that a single person in my district has asked for. We’re going to spend more money this year than we ever may have in state history.”
Senate Appropriations Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, told members that the state has enough money to still have $2.5 billion in the bank if the Senate’s $50 billion budget is approved by the House and the governor.
“We’re in a unique situation last year and this year because of the influx of federal money, but this is not the norm,” Hough said. “This is not the new norm that we’re going to be able to say yes to a lot of these one-time big capital expenditures.”
There’s a $4 billion difference between the budgets the House passed, and the Senate approved. Some of the big items the upper chamber added in was $2.8 billion to expand all of Interstate 70, using $1.4 billion from the general revenue surplus and $1.4 million from bond debt. The House funded the governor’s $859 million request to widen I-70 in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia.
Other major Senate additions in the budget include:
- $78 million for childcare subsidy rates, a governor priority
- $4.5 million for state aid to libraries, after the House removed this funding
- $300 million to build a new psychiatric hospital in Kansas City
- $460 million to increase pay for home care providers that care for people with disabilities, raising their pay up to $17 an hour.
- $55 million to expand pre-kindergarten programs
- $5 million to increase payments counties receive for housing inmates sentenced to the Department of Corrections
- $58.8 million to increase funding to state universities and colleges by 7%
- $52 million for the Jackson County Sports Authority to make capital and stadium improvements for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Kansas City.
- $25 million for the University of Missouri to develop a slaughterhouse in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to test new ways of processing food into animals.
The upper chamber also appropriated $7 million to help districts increase pay for starting teachers. Last year, the General Assembly approved to raise teacher pay to $38,000, with the state paying for 70% and the district paying the rest.
“With an investment of $7.6 million, we can actually alleviate the need for that 30% match from our districts,” Hough said. “The feedback that we got back last year was while our districts very much appreciated the matching grant, a lot of our rural districts could not match that 30%.”
Just after midnight, Brattin offered an amendment to block a landfill project in the Kansas City area. His provision was for a $200,000 environmental study on the proposed project. In the amendment, there was language prohibiting landfill development shall occur during the 10-year study. His provision was voted down by a bipartisan voice vote.
“You’re wanting to kill a project by a policy and the budget,” Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, said. “You’re wanting a 10-year study to kill a project. I can’t see a path for this amendment.”
After the changes made were made by the Senate, the budget bills went back to the House for approval, where Wednesday morning, the House Budget Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, asked the body to refuse to accept revisions. Smith made a motion to go to conference on the budget, meaning next week members of both chambers will meet to find a compromise on the budget.
The General Assembly has a constitutional duty to get the budget to the governor’s desk by May 5.