Missouri House endorses fiscal year 2015 budget

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Alex Stuckey

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JEFFERSON CITY • An attempt to remove $6 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget, set aside for the state to take over operation of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, was stifled on the House floor today.

The budget amendment, offered by Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, was defeated by a vote of 108-45. The Missouri House endorsed all 13 budget bills this evening, after about seven hours of debate.

Schupp attempted to strip the $6 million from the budget in the House Budget Committee prior to the Legislature’s spring break. It failed then as well.

The state could only take over operation of the riverways if the National Park Service relinquished control.

The $6 million appropriated for this take over can only be tapped if the fiscal year’s revenue growth exceeds the Legislature’s estimate of 4.2 percent.

Given the difference between Gov. Jay Nixon’s revenue growth estimate — 5.2 percent — and the Legislature’s estimate, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, created a surplus revenue fund.

Money only would be funneled into this fund if Nixon’s revenue growth estimate proves true.

A portion of the $278 million allotted to fund K-12 public schools — $122 million, to be exact — also is included in the surplus revenue fund.

Schupp said today the state does not have the funds or the staff to operate the riverways.

However, several Republicans voiced concern about the federal government’s proposed management plan for the area, such as adding restrictions for motorboats, horseback riders and ATVs.

Rep. Kevin Elmer, R-Nixa, believes the federal government is taking away the right of Missourians to use the area.

“Our government is committing tyranny by overrunning our freedom,” Elmer said.

The budget bills need one more vote in the House.

(House Bills 2001-2013)

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