2 House members separated during budget debate
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- Things got a bit ugly Thursday as the Missouri House finished its version of the state budget.The budget-writing process is rarely serene. Both sides will accuse opponents of playing political games. In fact, some republicans are upset with their own leaders for using iffy federal stimulus money to balance the books.We're gonna go home this weekend. We're gonna tell our constituents we did our job, we voted out a balanced budget, Rep. Jason Brown (R) of Platte City said. Well, sure it's balanced if you count the $300 million in it that isn't real, that we don't have.This time, the cuts were deeper and the tempers shorter than ever. Angry over a failure to rein in tax credits before cutting services, democrats opened up on the GOP majority.When we said, 'let's talk about this and reform tax credits,' we got the answer: no," Minority Floor Leader Paul Levota said. Republicans shot back that many of the tax credits now on the books were put there during the Carnahan administration, when economic times were good and democrats controlled the legislature.So to stand here and point the finger is simply playing politics, Rep. Tim Flook (R) of Liberty said. "You've been a partner in expanding tax credits...and all of a sudden you find religion and say we need to reform 'em, Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley said.The debate finally boiled over when Democratic Whip Jeff Roorda accused the republicans of using the budget to flog the Nixon administration.All we saw all week was phony baloney amendments to take this director's salary away or that director's salary away," Rep. Jeff Roorda, (D) Barnhart said. "Grandstanding that we know is not gonna be there at the end.Rep. Tim Jones (R) of Eureka exploded, accusing Roorda of taking a walk Wednesday to avoid every single first-round budget vote.
"Every single bill, you took a walk on," Jones yelled. "You're a liar, you're a liar, you're a liar!
Jones and Roorda started shouting and moving toward one another.Other lawmakers appeared to join the argument while colleagues kept the combatants apart until tempers cooled. It was quite an education for the school children in the upper gallery, especially when House Speaker Ron Richard threatened to throw people out.You will act with respect from both sides of the aisle or I will have members from both sides of the aisle removed, Richard said.Ultimately, no one was removed. Jeff Roorda later apologized for his tirade, but reminded colleagues he was only away from the capitol yesterday to attend the funeral of close friend. Watch exclusive video of the argument click here.