The $23 billion operating budget for the state of Missouri is on its way to Governor Jay Nixon (D).
Lawmakers in both chambers gave final approval to the package of bills this afternoon.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Basic aid for public schools remains flat. Aid to state colleges and universities is reduced by more than five percent.
- If a companion bill is also approved, the state would continue to subsidize prescription drugs for seniors and the disabled.
- A Senate plan that would have cut child-care subsidies for thousands of low-income parents but extended them for others did not make it into the final document.
Senate Appropriations Chair Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) says despite budget cuts and low revenue growth, the Show-Me State is in relatively good financial shape.
“Comparatively, there is solace in the fact that Missouri, as far as the budget, is in much better shape than most other states," Schaefer said. "Almost every report you look at puts Missouri in the top five states in the country as far as being fiscally sound and responsible...that’s why we still have our AAA bond rating.”
Sara Lampe of Springfield is the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. She says lawmakers did the best they could with what they had.
“But again, we have to ask the question, ‘Do we want to continue to just get by?’" Lampe said. "We’ve been moving from budget crisis to budget crisis to budget crisis…are we willing to have the political will to make the tough decisions about where we get revenue in this state?”
In other words, raising existing taxes or levying new ones, a move the GOP majority and the Democratic governor remain opposed to.
Portions of the state budget also directly target Governor Nixon. It includes language that bars him from billing state agencies for flights, and it eliminates funding for the personal chef at the Governor’s Mansion.
Nixon has until the end of June to sign the budget. He also has the option of vetoing portions of the spending plan and withholding funds to state agencies.