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House Debates Spending MOHELA Proceeds

A series of votes in the Missouri House showed that there's Republican support for the pending sale of MOHELA and using part of the funds for debt reduction. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

I'm in the Missouri House of Representatives where today, lawmakers spent a bit of time debating the first budget bill...It sets aside money to pay the public debt and it typically passes with little or no debate.

But this time around, the bill drew considerable criticism and several amendments.

The controversy centered on a provision that would take some of the money from the anticipated sale of MOHELA assets and use it to pay down the state's debt.

Governor Matt Blunt proposed paying for new buildings at state university with proceeds from the partial sale of MOHELA, the state's student loan underwriting agency.

House Republicans have their own plan, which includes using 75 million dollars for debt reduction.

During debate on the public debt bill, some democrats, like Representative Wes Shoemyer of North Central Missouri questioned whether the state should sell MOHELA assets.

Amendments from Democrats were rejected on near-party line votes.uRepublican Representative Mike Dethrow of Southeast Missouri says since the state issued bonds a few years ago to help it get through a budget crunch, the state needs to use some of the MOHELA proceeds to pay down the debt.

One democratic amendment would have taken the MOHELA money from paying down the debt and put it toward scholarships.

Representative Rachel Storch of St Louis offered the amendment.

The House rejected the Storch amendment to put MOHELA proceeds into scholarships instead of paying off debt.

The House Budget chairman, Allen Icet says the Republican plan, called Access Missouri for the MOHELA proceeds includes paying down the debt AND funding scholarships.

Icet also warned lawmakers against using any of the MOHELA proceeds for anything but one time expenses.

The House is expected to continue working on the budget the rest of this week.