Missouri Panel Cuts Funds for St. Louis Stadium Construction

Thu March 13, 2003 - National Edition

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A House panel cut $12 million from the Transportation Department’s proposed 2004 budget Tuesday, a move members said was a response to the department’s decision to build a highway onramp as part of a new St. Louis Cardinals baseball stadium.

The House Budget Committee voted to eliminate the money from the department’s economic development budget. Department officials said the onramp project was considered economic development and went through the same approval process as other economic development projects.

But Rep. Denny Merideth, D-Caruthersville, said the Legislature had made its intentions clear on the issue of state funding for a new stadium.

Last year, the Cardinals asked for state money to help build the new stadium, but the issue never came to a vote. The team then directly asked the Transportation Department _ which does not need the Legislature’s approval to spend its economic development funds _ to build the onramp.

Department officials said the $12 million would have been spread out over four budget years. But the committee cut the entire sum from next year’s budget.

The department makes construction decisions without consent of the Legislature, so the onramp may still be built.

The budget is being discussed in committee this week and is scheduled to move to the full House next week.