Senator Wayne Wallingford’s Legislative Column for the Week of April 11, 2016

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2017 Budget Advances to Final Stages

This week at the Capitol Senators passed 13 House bills, which will set the fiscal year 2017 state budget on to the final round of approval. Every Session, the General Assembly joins forces to pass effective, efficient and equitable plans for the coming year, and it’s always a massive undertaking for the Legislature to decide how best to utilize the available resources to fund the wide range of programs and services that Missourians rely on the state to provide.

This year’s operating budget is $27.1 billion, which is used to fund everything from Missouri transportation, education, social services, corrections, health care and more. Before approving the numbers, the Senate took a look at every state department to make the budget more transparent and to ensure each proposed amount accurately reflects what every department will need and use. While most state departments’ funding increases have been set at reasonable levels – in line with the Consumer Price Index – the cost of social services is rising at an unsustainable rate.

Year after year, the Department of Social Services (DSS) budget continues to rise at an astronomical rate. This year alone, the DSS budget calls for a total increase in funding of around 26 percent. This is by far the largest single department demand increase for next year. Medicaid spending is consuming every single dollar of general revenue growth for the year. The General Assembly has been working to slow the rising costs of state health care, and so far we found $40 million in cuts that can be made to be more efficient with spending.

One of the most important outcomes of the 2017 budget to me and the residents of the 27th District are the Senate’s changes to House Bill 11, which will work to increase funding for comprehensive women’s health care. The Senate plans to distribute $10 million to Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics, local public health clinics and private providers in order to provide Missouri women with more access to quality health care in all parts of the state.

People living in rural areas, like many of my fellow residents of the 27th District, generally have less access to health care services, simply because there aren’t as many doctors, health clinics and health care funding in these regions. The changes made to HB 11 will provide women greater access to services such as mammograms, prenatal care and health screenings. By stripping funding away from 13 scarce Planned Parenthood clinics around the state, Missouri will be able to better fund more clinics and organizations in more rural areas of the state, increasing access to quality health care for those who need it most.

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is also set to receive funding increases, with a total planned increase of 8.3 percent. This will be used to fund programs and services related to DMH MO HealthNet, developmental disability assistance and emergency room enhancement projects.

Other budget highlights include a $71 million increase for K-12 education, including additional funding for rural school transportation services and an $18.5 million increase for all scholarship programs such as Bright Flight, Access Missouri and the A+ Scholarship. Higher Education across the board will also be receiving increases in funding, with $55 million being allocated toward enhancing performance and equity within Missouri’s colleges and universities. In addition, $4.4 million will be used to increase equity funding for community colleges.

We have worked diligently this session on this year’s $27.1 billion budget, and it is important for the taxpaying public to know where their money is being spent and how it is going to help them in the coming year. In the coming weeks, the Senate and the House will come together as a joint conference committee to iron out and perfect the state budget bills before sending them to the governor for approval. We have until May 6 to get the budget bills to the governor’s office, and we are currently on track to meet our constitutional deadline.

I urge you to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about state government so that I can better represent you during the 2016 legislative session.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at or

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