Mo. lawmakers to begin negotiations on budget plan

JEFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are preparing to start negotiations on a final version of the state budget for the next fiscal year.

Among the most pressing decisions facing House and Senate negotiators Wednesday was whether to cut funding for a health care program for blind residents. The House previously approved a significant cut while the Senate voted to continue full funding.

Negotiators will also be deciding how many state employees should receive raises. The House version of the budget offered a 2 percent raise to employees earning up to $70,000. The Senate version set that cutoff at $45,000.

The conference committee is scheduled to start meeting Wednesday afternoon, but talks could go on for several days.

Lawmakers face a May 11 deadline to send a budget plan to Gov. Jay Nixon.

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