JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Fellow Republicans in the Missouri Legislature gave a chilly reception Thursday to several of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ key budget recommendations, including his calls for a 10 percent higher education cut and $250 million loan.
Greitens’ 2019 budget plan would give higher education institutions $92 million less than originally budgeted for the 2018 fiscal year and $68 million less than they were expected to receive after the governor’s previous cuts.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said lawmakers will pare that down to “considerably less” of a hit.
“We’re not going to let those cuts happen,” he said.
Lawmakers’ defiance of some of Greitens’ budget priorities comes less than a month after the governor acknowledged having an extramarital affair in 2015. Some legislators have called for his resignation in response, and others have questioned his ability to lead. But Greitens has said he has no plans to step down and is moving forward with his agenda.
Lawmakers also were resisting Greitens’ request for a $250 million short-term line of credit to help pay tax refunds back more quickly. Both House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick and his counterpart in the Senate, Appropriations Chairman Dan Brown, said they’re unsure if that would be constitutional.
“We’re not going to do that either,” Richard said of the loan request.
Brown on Thursday proposed taking $25 million Greitens wants for a matching infrastructure grant program and instead putting it toward higher education or other areas short on funding — a potential change that would zero out another one of the governor’s priorities.
Fitzpatrick said he told Department of Economic Development staff that the grant program would be a “hard sell.”
“We want to make sure that we have competitive economic development opportunities in the state,” Fitzpatrick said. “But in a year like this where we’re not necessarily making it rain, I don’t know if that one’s going to make it.”