Your Money, Your State Budget
The primary job of the Legislature is deciding how to spend your hard-earned tax dollars in a way that benefits all Missourians. Passing a balanced budget in a timely manner requires a great deal of time, discussion and compromise. This year’s $27.1 billion budget is no exception. The governor delivered his final budget requests in his State of the State address, and the House and Senate are now working diligently to agree on their own versions of the Missouri budget.
The Appropriations Committee holds hearings for all state departments during the budget process, and considers testimony and information from various sources in order to make difficult decisions on where every dollar is spent.
Most state departments are receiving cost increases that are reasonable and sustainable. However, year after year, social services continue to see astronomical increases. This year, social services has increased by 26%. Medicaid spending is consuming every single dollar of GR growth for the year. The cost for this fiscal year of Medicaid is $7.85 billion. In addition, the pharmacy line item has doubled in the last five years, from $900 million to $1.8 billion this year. We continue to look for ways to cut costs without compromising the care our citizens need. Fraud and misuse of the system is always a drain on resources, and we must work harder to find ways to expose and remove those who choose to abuse the system while providing for those who truly need assistance.
Other highlights of the budget include a $71 million Foundation Formula increase to K -12, and an $18.5 million increase for all scholarship programs, including Bright Flight, Access Missouri, and A+.
The state Fiscal Year 2016 begins on July 1. Lawmakers have until May 6, 2016 to get the budget bills to the governor, a deadline set by the Missouri Constitution. The House and Senate will next meet in conference to make final changes before heading to the governor for his signature.
As always, I encourage my constituents to contact me throughout the year with comments, questions or suggestions by calling my office at (573) 751-5713. To find more information about the bills I sponsor, visit www.senate.mo.gov/brown. Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.