This Week’s Legislative Column from Senator Mike Cunningham

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Budget Withholds

Before the 2016 Legislative Session concluded in May, the General Assembly presented the governor with a balanced budget. The budget for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017), which runs July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017, was $27.2 billion, but after recent budget withholdings from the governor, the FY 2017 Budget is now $115.5 million lower than before, following the announcement of temporary cuts. The budget cuts will affect 131 programs and state agencies.

Withholdings from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education include:

  • $5 million, which comprises all of the allotted funding for the Foundation School Transportation increase. This program would have provided transportation for students across the state.
  • $537,750, which would have been the total increase in the amount of Legislature-approved funding for the Parents as Teachers Program.
  • $50,000, the total in approved funding for the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Pilot, was withheld.
  • $1 million increase in funding for the Missouri Preschool Program was also witheld; and
  • $100,000 of the approved $700,000 funding for an increase in active shooter trainings at our schools.

The budget does include a $70 million increase for K-12 classrooms, and a more than $50 million increase for Missouri’s colleges and universities.

Budget withholds from other departments include:

  • All of the funding for the Department of Agriculture’s new program, Missouri Agriculture Product Promotion, was cut.
  • All of the $1.63 million grant to the Department of Public Safety for county sheriffs to issue conceal and carry permits was withheld. The $1.5 million increase in funding for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency disaster payments was also withheld.
  • An increase of $200,000 to the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program was cut. This program would have appointed a third-party to work with children who are involved in the court system through no fault of their own. The governor also withheld the $750,000 increase for a section of the highly successful drug court program in our state.

The Department of Mental Health’s $200 million increase in funding remains intact.

Keep in mind, however, in previous years, the governor has cut funding at the beginning of a fiscal year and then restored the funding later, so some of these programs may see the return of some, or possibly all of their funding.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.