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House Debates Budget

The Missouri House on Tuesday began debating the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July first. as KSMU's Missy Shelton reports, the focus was on education.

The budget provides an extra 170 million dollars for public schools.

Republicans say it's a victory for education.

Representative Brad Lager is the chairman of the budget committee.

But Democrats have a different perspective.

Paul LeVota is the Assistant Democratic Leader.

He says the increase for education isn't enough.

Democrats had some harsh criticism for the budget as a whole.

Jeff Harris is the Democratic Floor Leader.

Republican lawmakers say it's necessary to scale back the Medicaid program so that the state has more money for elementary and secondary education...Republicans say it's important to increase education funding without relying on a tax increase for additional revenue.

The Budget Chairman Brad Lager says by re-electing Republican majorities in the House and Senate, voters indicated their desire to see state spending reduced.

While social services and other areas of state government are being cut to provide extra money to public schools, higher education is being spared.

The House budget plan essentially would keep revenue for colleges and universities flat.

Representative Brad Lager says it was important to shield higher education from cuts since colleges and universities have seen reductions in state revenue in recent years.

But as with elementary and secondary education funding, democrats argue the budget doesn't provide enough revenue to colleges and universities.

House Democratic Leader Jeff Harris represents part of Columbia, where the University of Missouri is located.

The House is expected to finish its work on the state budget by the end of this week.