Senator Cunningham’s Legislative Column for April 28, 2017

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

This week the Senate passed the 13 House Bills that make up Missouri’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The $27.8 billion budget must be to the governor’s desk by the constitutional deadline of May 5.

House Bill 2, which provides funding for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, proved to be an issue about which many are passionate. While the Senate voted to approve $45 million, which will fully fund the foundation formula, the governor can still change the amount appropriated through a line item veto.  It is important to note that revenue has been growing this year, but not by as much as needed to fully fund the current budget.

While portions of the budget were passed without much debate, others like the allocation for managed care in our state took longer. The Senate also voted for expansion of managed care in the Department of Social Services’ budget. The plan would be used to provide services to approximately 750,000 Medicaid recipients starting on May 1. The health care portion of that department’s budget would cost more than $9.5 billion.

Other budget highlights include increasing early childhood special education funding by nearly $12 million and $2 million of general revenue funds will be used for the Virtual Schools Program. The Senate’s budget would also restore a 1.5 percent provider rate cut to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

The budget now goes before 10-member conference committee, made up of five members from each chamber. Once a compromise is reached, the budget will return to both chambers for final approval.

While we tried to meet the needs of all 10 departments, the bottom line is we had to find savings somewhere. Luckily, we have a very capable Appropriations Committee and staff who were willing to spend long hours funding savings where they could and also find ways to make government more efficient.

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.