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Politics

Lawmakers Send Budget to Governor

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/lawmakerss_548.mp3

Lawmakers sent their version of the state's 20 point 8 billion dollar operating budget to the governor today (Wednesday). KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The budget that's now on its way to the governor's desk is a compromise crafted last week after the House and Senate had passed their own versions of the budget.

Some lawmakers complained that the budget fails to restore the Medicaid cuts Republicans approved last year.

Democratic Representative Margaret Donnelly of St Louis County.

But most Republicans say they had to act last year to rein in the Medicaid program.

Republican Representative Allen Icet is chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Springfield Republican Representative Bob Dixon says the budget goes a long way toward making sure the disabled and children have the services they need.

Dixon says he's especially excited about funding in the budget for a new program in Springfield.

When the Medicaid budget came before the senate, some Democrats raised concerns that the bill fails to address provider fraud.

Democratic Senator Victor Callahan of the Kansas City area says the state could save millions by pursuing healthcare providers that bilk the Medicaid system. He suggested that would be a better solution than cutting Medicaid eligibility.

Despite those concerns, the Medicaid budget cleared the Senate with overwhelming approval...Only one lawmaker voted against it.

That was Republican Senator Matt Bartle of suburban Kansas City.

He says even with efforts last year to contain Medicaid costs, the program is growing out of control.

Now that the budget is on its way to the governor's desk, there's only one budget item lawmakers must pass by Friday, the constitutional deadline for passing budget bills.

That one remaining issue is the spending plan for funds generated by the pending sale of MOHELA assets.

The House and Senate have each passed their own versions of the spending proposal...Both include funds for capitol projects at universities and community colleges as well as money to reduce the state debt. At issue is how much money goes to each area...And the Senate appropriated some of the MOHELA proceeds for healthcare. The House did not. So, to meet the constitutional deadline, lawmakers will have to work out a compromise and pass it by Friday.