Senator Holly Thompson Rehder's Legislative Column for April 14, 2023

Friday, April 14, 2023

Turning to the Budget

It was a whirlwind week in the Missouri Legislature. I presented bills to committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and I carried another bill through the perfection process on the Senate floor. All told, eight bills I sponsored saw significant movement this week. I’ve written about most of these bills in past legislative updates, so I’ll forgo specific explanations until there’s something more definite to report. Suffice it to say, it’s been a crazy week. This level of activity can be expected at this time of the legislative session. There are just four weeks of legislative activity remaining before the General Assembly adjourns on May 12. We’ve got a lot to do, and not much time to do it.

Beginning next week, our focus will shift to passing an operating budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The Legislature only has one duty specifically mentioned in the Constitution. We must pass a balanced budget. To prepare for that responsibility, the Senate Appropriations Committee has been hard at work all session, meeting with representatives of each department of state government to learn more about what they do and to better understand their funding needs. This is my first year serving on the Appropriations Committee, and it’s been a great experience so far.

There are actually several major steps to writing the state budget. The governor outlines his budget priorities during his State of the State Address. The House of Representatives then drafts bills to appropriate money for each of the state departments. Once those bills have passed the House, they come over to the Senate, where the Appropriations Committee reviews them. During “mark-up,” the committee looks at every line in each of the budget bills, comparing the governor’s original request to the House appropriation. For every line, the committee will decide to accept the House version, defer to the governor, or make its own recommendation. The differences between the House and Senate versions will then get sorted out by conference committees before a final vote on the budget bills. That all has to happen by 6 p.m. on May 5. The final budget bills then go to the governor for his signature.

I’m looking forward to participating in mark-up for the first time as the committee begins its work next week. One area I’ll be paying close attention to is funding for public libraries. There’s been a lot of attention on this issue lately. The House voted to strip funding for libraries from the budget after a group representing libraries filed a lawsuit over what they perceived to be censorship. I get that some lawmakers were upset, but I don’t believe my local library should suffer harm over a lawsuit they didn’t file. You can be sure the Senate Appropriations Committee will be taking a hard look at this line in the budget. I predict the libraries will get their funding restored before the final budget goes to the governor.

Somebody once told me a legislative session is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, that may be true, but every race has a sprint to the finish, and that time has come. There are only 18 working days left in the First Regular Session of the 102nd General Assembly. We’re all scrambling to get our bills passed, either as stand-alone measures or as part of another bill. We’re also intensely focused on the budget, and trying to make sure each district gets a fair share of state spending. It’s an exciting time in the Missouri Senate. Things are happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up. Keep reading my legislative updates, and follow me on Facebook, to stay informed about what’s happening at the State Capitol.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to or visit