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Missouri General Assembly sends $51.7B budget to Parson's desk

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Last edited 12:17 p.m., May 13, 2024 [Editor's note: The copy has been edited for clarification.]

The Missouri General Assembly last week passed its fiscal 2025 budget just ahead of the constitutional deadline.

The $51.7 billion budget now heads to Gov. Mike Parson's desk. The governor last year signed a record-high $51.8 billion budget, according to past reporting.

Highlights in the Missouri General Assembly's approved budget, detailed in a news posted by the office of Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, include the following:
• $727.5 million for rebuilding work along Interstate 44, including six lanes at Springfield, Joplin and Rolla.
• $100 million for rural and low-volume roads.
• $1.5 billion for the expansion of broadband access.
• $120.6 million to fully fund the K-12 education foundation formula.
• a $14 million increase to fully fund school transportation.

"Our primary goal in crafting the Missouri state operating budget is to safeguard taxpayers and ensure essential services are well supported. This balanced budget reflects our dedication to responsible spending and critical infrastructure investments, setting a positive course for our state's future,” said House Budget Chair Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, in the release. “By avoiding wasteful expenditures and focusing on infrastructure, we're not just meeting immediate needs but also laying the groundwork for sustained growth and prosperity.”

Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, who is Senate Appropriations chair, said in a separate news release that the approved budget is fiscally responsible.

"Despite having to start later than usual, the Senate was able to craft a conservative, balanced budget that reflects our state’s values and ensures our tax dollars are spent responsibly," Hough said in the release. "I’m very proud of the work we have done to meet the needs of our citizens and our state."

The state's next fiscal year starts July 1.

Reporting by the Missouri Independent, below, indicates the plan passed by the General Assembly was less than the $52.7 billion proposal from Gov. Mike Parson in January.

“While we have a very good final product, the process left something to be desired,” Smith said at a news conference with other Republicans.

The budget plan taps the state’s accumulated surplus to spend $15.3 billion in general revenue. By putting a “one-time” designation on $1.35 billion of the $14.6 billion allocated for state operations in the coming year, Smith was able to say the budget uses no more for ongoing programs than the state expects in tax receipts.

The designation is on the $363.7 in general revenue that will be put in a fund for improving Interstate 44, a project Smith, a Carthage Republican running for state treasurer, inserted into the budget. It is also on $336.2 million that funds the Medicaid managed care program.

There are also one-time designations on $580 million in spending from federal and other funds. The smallest is $1,613 for the expense and equipment needs of the Department of Social Services’s Division of Legal Services, paid from federal funds.

Before Senate votes on the budget began Thursday, Parson said his budget staff had no idea what was in the final budget crafted by Smith and Hough. If the budget fails to adequately fund state operations, Parson said he would not leave it to his successor to fill in the gaps.

The majority of the cuts to Parson’s January budget proposal were in three departments – Health and Senior Services, Mental Health and Social Services. Total funding for those agencies is $829 million below the amounts requested by Parson.

One cut was to funding for personal care assistance intended to help elderly people and people with disabilities remain in their home, reduced by $86 million. Another was to the overall managed care budget, which is about $500 million below Parson’s request.

While those cuts were being made, the budget includes almost 300 new earmarked items, costing more than $2 billion, sprinkled throughout the 16 appropriation bills for the coming year. The largest is $727.5 million Smith inserted for I-44 improvements.

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