The budgeting process began in the Missouri House, and the House based its original budget on a more conservative revenue estimate than was used by the Governor and the Senate. The House’s version contained a surplus revenue fund designed to capture any additional revenue that would come in above the projected estimate. The compromised version of the budget does away with the surplus revenue fund and, instead, is based on a slightly higher revenue estimate than was originally used by the House. Thus, the end result is a fiscally responsible spending plan based on a realistic revenue projection that makes the wisest use of taxpayer’s dollars. After the final approval by the House and the Senate, the budget is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.
The budget was completed in a timely manner—two weeks ahead of the constitutional deadline—and the Governor must act on it by either approving or rejecting it before Session ends on Friday, May 13. As a result of the timeliness of the process, our state’s school systems will benefit. They will have knowledge of funding amounts prior to their own budgeting time as to how much revenue will be available to them.
Here are some of the FY17 budget highlights for Missouri’s education:
• a $70.3 million increase for K-12 public school Foundation Formula funding
• an additional $5 million increase for K-12 transportation funding
• an additional $537,000 for the Parents as Teachers program
• a $37.2 million increase in performance funding for Missouri’s colleges and Universities, which includes $17.8 million in new funding for the University of Missouri system; however, the budget also includes a $3.8 million cut to the University of Missouri system’s administration
• $750,000 will be budgeted to fund a commission to review MU’s administrative structure (this includes degreed programs, research activities, and diversity programs
• $3 million to assist University of Missouri Kansas City and Missouri Southern in Joplin in their joint project to create a dental school in Joplin
• $4 million Access Missouri need-based Scholarship program
• $2.5 million for A+ Scholarship program
• $500,000 increase for Bright Flight Scholarship program
Additional budget highlights include the following:
• $20 million to revive Missouri’s Cost-Share program to fund transportation projects
• 4.3 million for our Alternatives to Abortion program
• an additional 2% increase for all state employees—not elected officials
• $500,000 to fund a pilot project to utilize new technology to allow for better monitoring of offenders on probation and parole
• an additional $600,000 to the Missouri State Highway Patrol to hire and train 10 additional troopers
• $4.1 million to improve technology for Missouri’s local sheriff’s departments
On a lighter note, members of the General Assembly welcomed a special visitor this week, as Patriot, a bald eagle, made an appearance at the State Capitol. She came to Jefferson City from her home at the World Bird Sanctuary near St. Louis. Her visit was in conjunction with the annual Conservation Day, which is held to bring conservationists across our state to the Capitol for a day of promoting and supporting our state’s natural resources and outdoor heritage. Patriot was on hand for photo opportunities with legislators and guests. She also appeared in the House chamber, where she and her handler were introduced on the floor as they made their down the center aisle.
Patriot, the eagle, was rescued as a hatchling in Pike County when her nest fell into the Mississippi River. She was nursed back to health after contracting pneumonia and would not have survived in the wild because of lung damage she sustained. She now serves as a mascot for the sanctuary, an organization that works to preserve the earth’s biological diversity and to help secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environment.
From a budget to a bird, this past week was not only a busy one, but also an interesting one.