Upper Chamber will Conference With House Before Final $27.8 Billion Budget is Sent to Governor
JEFFERSON CITY— The Missouri State Senate sent the $27.8 billion operating budget back to the House this week after multiple days of floor debate. While the Senate and House differed on certain line-items, for the first time in a decade the General Assembly will fully fund the state’s elementary and secondary education Foundation Formula. The Senate also agreed to fully fund the Bright Flight scholarship program and increased funding for the Show-Me ECHO program to $3 million.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, said the biggest challenges every year are to find ways to best fund our public schools, understand how to better manage the ever-rising costs of Medicaid, and still take care of those individuals who are the most vulnerable in Missouri. This year, however, those challenges were even tougher given the state of the tight budget.
“While we tried 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,” said Brown. “But, we have a very talented and capable staff and committee. Together we worked to find savings where we could and to make government more efficient.”
Other budget highlights include increasing Early Childhood Special Education and Virtual Schools Program funding. The Senate’s budget would also fully fund MOSERS, the Missouri State Employee Retirement System, by nearly $46 million to keep the pension system solvent and restore a 1.5 percent provider rate cut to health and senior services.
“The most important thing we do as legislators is to pass an on-time and balanced budget that Missouri taxpayers can afford,” said Senate Leader Ron Richard, R-Joplin. “We want the budget to reflect our commitment to the Show-Me State.”
However, work is not done yet. The Senate will still need to conference with the House on most of the budget bills before they are sent to the governor for his signature. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City said while time may be tight, he is optimistic the work will be done by the Constitutional deadline.
“The Appropriations Committee has worked diligently during this challenging budget year, but the work is not complete,” said Kehoe. “I have confidence in the committee and staff’s capabilities, and I am confident we will have the final budget to the governor’s desk by the end of next week.”
The next fiscal year begins on July 1. The General Assembly has until 6 p.m. on May 5 to get the final budget to the governor’s desk. For more on the appropriations bill as well as others, visit www.senate.mo.gov.