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Budget Cuts Wrong Medicine For Ailing MO Economy?



March 25, 2009

Jefferson City, MO - Sparks will be flying this week, as lawmakers debate the House version of the state budget. The Missouri House Budget Committee has proposed deep cuts that some say will unnecessarily harm thousands of Missourians and leave unmatched federal dollars on the table.

The long list of possible cuts that could affect 70,000 Missourians includes Medicaid, mental health services, child care for low-income families, even clothing and diapers for foster children. Members of the House Budget Committee say the cuts are about thinking long-term, and they want stimulus dollars spent on a one-time tax rebate or on construction projects.

Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, says the deep cuts are unnecessary and there is plenty of money to go around, with more than one billion dollars in federal money remaining.

"Only about 200 million of it would be needed to restore health, mental health, and social services. There's a lot of room left there, a lot of wiggle room."

Blouin says the state stands to forfeit more than 160 million dollars in federal matching funds which are meant to prevent cuts to critical services during an economic downturn and to maintain and create jobs that will stimulate the economy. She says that by failing to take advantage of the funds, Missouri could worsen its budget problems.

"We are probably going to be falling behind other states in our recovery, and we are likely to see our tax revenue go to other states."

Members of the House Budget Committee continue to comment on how this budget is extremely complicated for everyone involved.

Blouin says if the House version of the budget passes, Missouri could also lose about 3,700 additional jobs. Once approved, it will move on to the Senate for debate.

More information is online at www.mobudget.org

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO