JEFFERSON CITY – By a straight party-line vote, Missouri's House rejected Tuesday, March 25, a budget proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for more lower-income adult Missourians.
The vote came just one day after a group of GOP senators vowed they would block any effort in the Senate to raise eligibility of Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The House vote was on an amendment to the Social Services Department's budget that would have authorized the agency to spend $1.6 billion in federal funds that are available to finance the expansion.
The amendment was defeated 50-98.
Supporters argue expanding Medicaid would provide coverage for about 300,000 more Missourians with the federal government picking up most of the cost.
However, Republican critics have warned there is no guarantee that Congress might in the future require a higher contribution by states that had expanded Medicaid coverage.
The Medicaid program is part of a $26 billion budget for the budget year beginning July 1 that was given first-round approval by the House Tuesday and then given final approval and sent to the Senate on Thursday, March 27.
The budget includes Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal for a $278 increase in the School Foundation Program that provides state funds to local public schools, but with a catch.
Republican legislative budget leaders have argued the governor's education funding increase is based on an unrealistically high prediction of tax collection growth.
So, the House-passed plan would make $156 million of the education funding increase contingent upon the state actually experiencing higher revenue collections than legislative budget leaders have predicted.
One change in the House Budget Committee plan made by the House would prohibit the Education Department from spending any federal or private grant funds to implement or support Common Core Standards.
Critics have charged the effort to establish national standards for primary and secondary education interferes with local control over public schools.
The chair of the Education Appropriations Committee -- Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe -- charged that the House amendment was simply an effort to send a political message because, "there are no grant funds associated with Common Core coming to the state."