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House leaders delay vote on Budget Reserve Fund

April 04, 2002
By: Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - House leaders delayed a vote to tap the state's Budget Reserve Fund late Thursday after giving preliminary approval to most of the state's budget.

The proposal, which would use about $75 million from the fund to cover any shortfalls in the budget, requires a two-thirds vote for passage and is a major proposal of Gov. Bob Holden.

House leaders said the measure would come up for debate after the weekend.

In a marathon session spanning more than 12 hours, the House completed debate on the 12 appropriations bills that make up the state's annual budget.

The bills include many cuts proposed by Holden, who has said the state is in the midst of a serious fiscal crisis.

Lawmakers voted to restore $2 million to the state's Liquor Patrol that was cut in earlier committee action. Columbia Rep. Chuck Graham, who proposed the original cut, said many local businesses had complained to him that the patrol went overboard in their enforcement of liquor laws.

Proponents of restoring funding said local police could not enforce liquor laws without state help. Rep. Randall Relford, D-Cameron, said cutting funding for the Patrol is not the answer to the problem, and that any time a program is cut for political reasons, it makes the situation worse.

"Every time we send a message, we foul something else," Relford said.

Funding for the patrol was removed from a program to computerize state court records.

Lawmakers also rejected an amendment to shift money requested to open a new state prison in Bonne Terre to fund a pay increase for state employees.

Proponents of the plan said state workers deserve to be well paid, while opponents said it didn't make sense to not open a prison that is completed and currently empty.