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New Budget Chair Profile

By: Dan Mihalopoulos
State Capital Bureau

January 30, 1995

JEFFERSON CITY _ She's a staunch supporter of women's rights, workers, the arts and the environment _ and she's an ACLU member.

Some consider her breed an endangered species in a new political jungle where millions nod as Rush Limbaugh slams "feminazis" and even Big Bird is fair game.

But Rep. Sheila Lumpe, D-University City, has never had more sway in the statehouse than she will have this session.

This year, the St. Louis County resident took over leadership of the House Budget Committee, one of the most powerful committees in the state legislature.

Lumpe said one of her priorities will be protecting funding for family planning, which came under fire in both the House and Senate last year.

Lumpe said she expects a similar scenario this session when the budget reaches the new, more conservative House.

"I can't guarantee that there are the votes in the legislature to maintain that support," she said. "I will do whatever I can to see that it doesn't dissapear."

Lumpe said she fully backs government funding for the arts and is very supportive of "working people's issues."

Her husband Gus is a retired member of the Teamsters union. While Lumpe talked, her husband sat on her office couch, absorbed by the fat novel.

Lumpe also said she would try to provide adequate funding to support prevailing wage enforcement and child labor laws, among other programs that she believes benefit Missouri's workers.

Other items on Lumpe's priority list, however, are far from the traditionally liberal issues such as labor, the environment and the arts.

She said the state should define which of its functions can be handled more appropriately by the private sector.

In areas including psychiatric services, the state should convert its agencies into private, not-for-profit organizations, she said. They then would bid to provide services to the state.

"If we set the public employee free, they will come up with the best way to do the job," Lumpe said.

Lumpe added that she will look for instances where government can downsize and become less bureaucratic.

"There is general agreement that we can make things more efficient," Lumpe said. "The state has to work together. Instead of having five or six mainframe (computers), maybe we can have one."