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Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address on Jan. 19.
Provided by Gov. Mike Parson's office
Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address on Jan. 19.

Parson seeks $47B budget

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Gov. Mike Parson announced a record $47 billion budget proposal earlier this month for fiscal 2023 that is bolstered by federal dollars and a surplus of funds in state coffers. The total, which includes almost $3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds, is roughly $12 billion more than the current fiscal year budget.

“With a historic budget surplus and federal dollars coming to our state, we want to build on our past momentum to capture even greater opportunities for the future of Missourians,” Parson said during his Jan. 19 State of the State address in Jefferson City. “But I want to remind you that our economy is strong despite federal funding. When other states will be using federal dollars to fill spending gaps and budget shortfalls, we will be making investments in the future.”

Education funding is a major component of the budget proposal, which includes roughly $3.6 billion in core funding for K-12 public schools, the same total as this year.

Additionally, Parson seeks $722 million to help child care centers maintain or resume operations, nearly $22 million in state matching funds to local school districts for an increased baseline teacher salary of $38,000 a year and over $51 million for the state’s public colleges and universities.

“Unfortunately, Missouri is currently ranked 50th in the United States for starting teacher pay and half of our new teachers leave the profession by their fifth year,” Parson said. “This is unacceptable, and we must do better.”

Workforce investment in the budget also includes boosting pay for state workers. Parson is calling for $228 million to provide a $15-per-hour minimum wage and a 5.5% cost of living adjustment.

The governor also proposes setting aside 2.5% of last year’s general revenue in a rainy day fund, equating to $281 million. Additionally, he’s advocating for a one-time $500 million payment to the state employee pension fund.

As he has done since taking office in 2018, Parson spoke during the address of the need to invest in infrastructure, which he is seeking to do, in part, through federal dollars. That includes $400 million in broadband expansion projects and $100 million in funding for roads and bridges.

“With this plan, we will connect 75,000 households with high-speed broadband,” Parson said, noting another $30 million would be invested toward constructing and upgrading cell towers to expand wireless networks across the state.

Matt Morrow, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce president, said the budget proposal amount is a “one-time artificially inflated” number, largely due to federal money. The key will be how to best spend the money for a lasting impact in the state, he said.

“Generally speaking, the governor kept his priorities where they’ve been from the beginning, which is on workforce development and infrastructure investments that have been foundations for economic growth,” Morrow said.

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