Creating a Balanced Budget – Line-by-Line

Every year Missouri Legislators are sent to Jefferson City and required to do one thing – craft a balanced budget that will run the critical functions of the state’s government. After six years of serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee, this year I am serving as chairman. Understanding the budget process isn’t easy. You must analyze all budget lines carefully and look for ways to find savings to make sure we are being attentive to Missouri taxpayers’ money.

Since session has started, our Appropriations Committee has heard testimony from all state department heads. By listening to each department separately, we can get a better feel for their needs, and that helps our committee make critical decisions in the budget process. Our biggest challenges every year are to find ways to best fund our public schools, understand how to better manage the skyrocketing costs of Medicaid in Missouri, and still take care of those individuals who are the most vulnerable in the state.

The budget is one way we can work to control the growth of government. We can examine each line and determine if that line is necessary to our state. By going line-by-line, we can also make sure the budget is more transparent and accurately reflects the actual amounts departments will need and use.

Appropriation bills begin in the House before we can even begin debating them in the Senate. Once passed out of the House, we can start our “mark-up” process. That’s when we really get to work. The Senate committee will review the decisions made by the House, the recommendations from the governor, and the department testimony we have heard over the last eight weeks. The “mark-up” process should begin in the next couple of weeks.

While we will try our best to meet the needs of all the departments in their budget requests, we have known for months now that this budget was going to be tight. But, we are ready for the challenge and ready to get to work. We have a very talented and capable staff. We plan to work together to find savings, make government more efficient, and make sure we have a budget that’s balanced and shows our commitment to the Show-Me State. The next fiscal year begins on July 1. We have until midnight on May 5, 2017 to get it to the governor’s desk.

Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla

District 16