Updated at 3:20 p.m. with Department of Correction comment — Missouri’s state budget for the 2018 fiscal year arrived at Governor Eric Greitens’ desk late Thursday night — several hours ahead of the deadline, despite the recent delays and arguments in the Senate that threatened to derail progress.
The new Republican governor has until June 30 to sign the $27.8 billion spending plan, roughly two-thirds of which involves money from the federal government, and decide how much, if anything, he’ll cut or temporarily withhold.
Major battles were waged earlier in the process over K-12 funding, higher education funding and in-home care. In the bill that’s headed to Greitens, elementary and secondary schools will be fully funded, all of the state’s four-year universities will see a 6.6 percent cut and 8,000 elderly and disabled residents will lose home health care services.
Here’s a closer look at each budget bill, with a comparison of how much was doled out in this budget vs. last year’s.
FY2018: $42.3 million, FY2017 $43.3 million
In charge of the state’s public debt, the commission also issues state bonds for various projects. Senate budget chair Dan Brown, R-Rolla, said the decline in funding is because some bonds have matured to the point that their interest rates have dropped, so they’re costing the state less money.
“As bonds tend to mature, the payoff tends to get a little less every year,” he said.
FY2018: $6 billion, FY2017: $5.9 billion
The House and Senate originally disagreed on fully funding the public school formula. House members wanted an extra $45 million, but the Senate’s top budget writer, a Republican, said it was too pricey and offered a range of $3 million to $45 million. But several GOP senators and all nine Democratic senators teamed up to approve the full hike.
FY2018: $1.194 billion, FY2017: $1.316 billion
The 6.6 percent cut across the board for all colleges and universities is a bit of a reprieve for the University of Missouri system, which under the House version of the budget would have seen a 9 percent cut.
Thomas Harnisch with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities said it will lead to steeper tuition and more debt for students in Missouri.
“Balancing state budgets on the backs of student and families is not a sustainable, smart, long-term strategy for growing the state’s economy,” he said.
The bill also contains language barring in-state tuition and scholarships to students who have an “unlawful immigration status in the United States.” That includes numerous youths and young adults who were brought into the country as small children and grew up here.
“These kids … grow up every bit as American as everybody else,” said Democratic Sen. Jason Holsman of Kansas City. “They’re leaving the state, and that’s not how you build a highly educated workforce.”
Revenue FY2018: $517 million, FY2017: $514 million
MoDOT FY2018: $2.28 billion, FY2017: $2.191 billion
DWI checkpoints were essentially defunded during the negotiation process, with lawmakers putting only $1 toward them. Most of the Republican majority view the checkpoints as invasions of privacy and a violation of constitutional right, saying the promote the notion of “guilty until proven innocent.”
Rep. Kathy Conway, R-St. Charles, was not among them.
“I think that any time we take funds away that help law enforcement stop DWI’s, it’s shameful,” she said.
And Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, was disheartened that more money was not given to MoDOT to help with the flood damage.
“Unfortunately over the last week we have seen a ton of rain and unfortunately in our budget there is nothing to fund our roads and bridges,” McCann Beatty said. “Obviously after the water subsides there is going to be substantial damage and there is nothing in the budget that is going to be there to do those repairs.
FY2018: $369.6 million, FY 2017: $322.3 million
This bill also includes salaries and benefits for state employees. While they’re not getting a pay raise, the state will be spending an extra $55 million for employee benefits, primarily health insurance.
“Those are fringe costs, things we have to do,” Brown said. “Every time we hire a new state employee, about 80 percent of what we’re spending ends up being fringe benefits over time.”
Also, the state employee retirement system (MOSERS) is getting an extra $45 million in funding, which was how much system officials had asked for. House budget negotiators had sought a $15 million increase.
Agriculture FY2018: $43.9 million, FY2017: $53.2 million
Conservation FY2018: $154.9 million, FY2017: $154.6 million
Natural resources: FY2018 $583.9 million, FY2017 $581.9 million
If signed by Greitens, it would bar the DNR from enforcing any proposed federal rule that would redefine a navigable waterway under the federal Clean Water Act. It also requires the state agency to notify the General Assembly, in writing, within 60 days of purchasing land intended to be used as a state park.
Education: FY2018: $302 million, FY2017: $373 million
Insurance: FY2018: $43.8 million, FY2017: $41.8 million
Labor: FY2018: $211 million, FY2017: $216.5 million
The Missouri Senate had sought to eliminate all 11 inspectors within the Department of Labor, but only two positions were cut after negotiations with the House. The inspectors enforce labor laws such as minimum wage, prevailing wage and child labor.
One notable cut to Economic Development was to the Division of Tourism, which is getting $5 million less.
“We were pretty starved (of general revenue), and there’s not a lot of places to go in the budget to find it, so we tend to pick on certain areas (like tourism),” Brown said.
He added that some areas of the budget, like Corrections, are off the table: “If you’re going to lock people up, then we’re required to take care of them according to federal guidelines.”
FY2018: $705.4 million, FY2017: $748 million
If signed, the agency must provide flight plans and online tracking of flights whenever a state-elected official travels on a state-owned airplane. Democrats and several Republicans cited former Gov. Jay Nixon’s use of a flight-tracking website and said it was appropriate to require the new governor to do so as well.
FY2018: $760.5 million, FY2017: $725 million
This is higher for a simple reason: more inmates.
"When there’s an increase in inmate numbers, there’s going to be an increase in a lot of services that we provide — health care, food, general housing costs,” Brown said. “We’re locking up more people.”
But David Owen with the Department of Corrections disagreed, saying in an email that it's the first year the Inmate Canteen Fund is a part of the budget. That fund is meant to benefit recreational, religious and educational services for inmates.
Owen also said that, as of Friday, Missouri has 32,591 inmates in state prisons.
Mental Health: FY2018: $2.176 billion, FY2017: $1.99 billion
HSS: FY2018: $1.413 billion, FY2017: $1.341 billion
For the second year in a row, Republicans added language barring Medicaid dollars from being used to “directly or indirectly subsidize abortion services.” It would also cut off Medicaid funding to doctors or hospitals that refer women to an abortion clinic unless the procedure is needed to save the life of the mother.
“Missouri is so fearful that somehow an agency like Planned Parenthood may be reimbursed for providing checkups or other kind of services for women and men,” said Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.
FY2018: $9.367 billion, FY2017: $9.224 billion
Despite the increased budget for Social Services, House and Senate negotiators removed 8,000 low-income elderly and disabled from in-home health care services. But the Senate reversed course Thursday night by passing a non-budget bill that would restore those services and allow elderly renters to continue receiving a housing tax credit.
That’s a one-year deal that would be paid for by funneling unused money from roughly 400 boards and commissions. It still needs the House’s approval.
Another piece of the pie is $4 million for the summer youths jobs program in St. Louis and Kansas City. Earlier in the process, Democratic Rep. Bruce Franks managed to get $6 million, but negotiators trimmed it.
“This is a life-changing program; this is a program that has saved thousands of youths jobs just in the past couple years,” Franks said. “For some of these youth that don’t have parents..summer jobs has been that much needed resource.
“It’s not just about jobs. It’s about the behavior modification. It’s about the police community relationship. It’s about the parenting initiative for pregnant youth, for pregnant teens, for young fathers,” he added.
Elected officials: FY2018: $142.8 million, FY2017: $138.2 million
Judiciary: FY2018: $216.4 million, FY2017: $217.3 million
Public Defenders: FY2018: $45.6 million; FY2017: $44.6 million
General Assembly: FY2018: $36 million; FY2017: $36.9 million
The state Public Defender’s office is getting a $1 million increase, which isn’t as much as the director wanted and not as much as the $6.8 million that an earlier budget committee was willing to provide.
“We would like to give them more, but they thought they could live with that,” Brown said.
Public Defender’s office director Michael Barrett said it wasn’t enough, noting that “we face a more than 13 percent increase in caseloads statewide and the governor continues to withhold $3.5 million from last year's appropriation. We're not so much making gains as we are struggling to keep up.”
FY2018: $104.9 million, FY2017: $104.4 million
The bill covers such things as buying office furniture for state buildings and needed maintenance. It was met with no debate in either chamber.