- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Planned Parenthood will lose state funding while universities, colleges and public schools will see millions of dollars more under a Missouri budget passed Thursday by the Legislature.

The $27 billion spending plan now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has the power to veto individual budget lines. The budget will take effect July 1.

Lawmakers blocked Medicaid funding from going to any entity that offers elective abortions. State money already is prohibited from paying for abortions, but Planned Parenthood currently accepts Medicaid payments for services such as vaccinations and exams.

“Taxpayers in the state of Missouri simply no longer are going to fund Planned Parenthood,” said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, the Columbia Republican who chairs the appropriations committee.

Medicaid, which covers health care for people with low incomes, would get $10.2 billion, with about half coming from the federal government. The budget passed last year allocated $9.3 billion for Medicaid, and the state’s share of that spending has increased by about $530 million since the 2013 fiscal year.

State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, who is vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, called that growth “brutal.”

The budget adds $71 million to the nearly $3.3 billion of existing basic aid for K-12 schools. But that would still leave state funding about $439 million short of what’s called for under the legal formula for school funding. The budget also includes a $2 million boost for the Charter School Commission.

The budget boosts core funding for higher education by about $37 million, or 4 percent. Higher education representatives said that increase will be enough to prevent a tuition increase next year.

The Senate plan had called for a 6 percent increase, while the House originally proposed a 2 percent increase that excluded the University of Missouri, a response to the protests in the fall that caused the chancellor and University of Missouri system president to resign. Fitzpatrick said that item was the biggest difference between the chambers as negotiators worked out the final version of the budget.

The compromise budget halved a proposed cut to the University of Missouri system administration, from $7.6 million to about $3.8 million, and eliminated a proposed $1 million cut to the Columbia campus. Meanwhile, the University of Missouri’s share of the higher education boost will account for almost $18 million, and the budget earmarks several purchases, such as equipment for its veterinary school, that total more than $2.6 million.

Despite the broad increases for the University of Missouri, Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said he could not support a budget that includes “retaliatory” cuts and money for a commission to review the university system’s rules and structure, which he said will amount to “a witch hunt at the University of Missouri for the next six months.”

The budget calls for $20 million for a program to split the cost of transportation projects between the Missouri Department of Transportation and local governments. Although the final spending plan omitted three road projects added on the House floor totaling $12.3 million, budget writers told the department those projects should be a priority.

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Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine contributed to this report.


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