Updated at 6:10 p.m., Feb. 10, with the House also passing a resolution that makes several changes to the state’s ballot initiative process
A supplemental Missouri budget, which includes raises for state workers, is a step closer to passing the legislature after the House approved it Thursday.
Members voted 114-11, with 25 voting present, for the budget that now awaits a hearing in the Senate.
The nearly $4.6 billion budget contains funds for Missouri’s Medicaid program, including its expansion, raises for state employees and almost $2 billion in federal money for public schools.
However, the bill the House passed is not the same as the proposal from Gov. Mike Parson, with one of the largest changes being to the pay raise plan.
Under Parson’s proposal, all state employees would have received a 5.5% cost-of-living adjustment. Additionally, a new minimum hourly rate of $15 would have been established.
The new budget instead creates two minimum wages for state workers, though the 5.5% increase is kept intact. Under these new changes, only some would receive the new $15-an-hour minimum, while others will have a $12-an-hour baseline. Missouri’s current minimum wage is $11.15 an hour.
In speaking on the bill Thursday, Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern, D-Kansas City, said though she liked a lot of it, she was still voting present because “our state workers are suffering.”
“Until we are on the front lines of all of these jobs, I am going to trust them to tell me their reality. And what they are telling us is they need this money to keep our vital state services afloat,” Nurrenbern said.
House Budget Chair Cody Smith, R-Carthage, said the difference between Parson’s wage proposal and the new budget is about $7 million, with the largest percentage of that cut coming from those who would not meet the new $15 minimum wage. Smith described the $12-an-hour positions as jobs for people entering the workforce.
“Those jobs aren’t right for people who need to be completely self-sufficient, own their own home, have their own vehicle, have a family, those types of things,” Smith said.
While it was repeatedly said departments could be allowed to give increases higher than $12 an hour if they wanted, ultimately less money is being allocated to distribute raises as opposed to the original proposal.
Smith said one area where departments could find funding for raises would be in budgeted positions that are vacant.
House Democrats have repeatedly criticized the change in the raise plan. During preliminary approval, which took around four hours Wednesday, Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, offered an amendment that restored the funding for the raises back to Parson’s initial …….