Senator Justin Brown’s Legislative Column for May 7, 2021

Passing the Budget

There are two critical dates that loom over every legislative session. One is the final day, which happens this year on May 14. The other important date is May 7. This is the last day the General Assembly can act on appropriations bills and send a balanced budget to the governor.

Sometime before 6 p.m. on Friday, both chambers of the Legislature approved the state’s operating budget for Fiscal Year 2022. As it stands right now, the state of Missouri will spend $35.6 billion next year. About 40% of next year’s budget will be paid with federal dollars, including Medicaid funding and COVID-19 relief programs. Another 30% is funded through general revenue – mostly individual and corporate state income taxes and sales taxes. The remaining $10 billion is paid for through “other sources.” These include the road tax we pay at the pump, conservation and parks taxes and permits, fees paid by health care providers and other specific targeted revenue sources.

The 2022 budget includes nearly $7.5 billion for K-12 public education, with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s foundation formula fully funded. The Legislature also increased funding for school transportation programs by $20 million. The $1.4 billion Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development budget includes a 3.7% increase in funding for Missouri’s colleges and universities. There is also more money for the A+ Schools program and the MO Excels job training initiative.

Health care and other services for children, seniors and low-income Missourians once again dominate state spending. The budget for the Department of Social Services, the primary administrator of the MoHealthNet program, is $10.7 billion. Two other agencies responsible for direct services to Missourians in need, the departments of Mental Health and Health and Senior Services, will spend $2.8 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively. Even without appropriating additional money for Medicaid expansion, these three agencies account for 45 cents of every dollar your state government will spend next year. By comparison, the departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources combined will spend less than a billion, barely 3 cents of every dollar in the budget.

I’m pleased to inform you that all of the various programs benefiting the 16th Senatorial District which I highlighted in a report two weeks ago, survived conference committee negotiations and will be included in the budget sent to the governor. A $20 million program to help meat processing facilities adapt to the COVID-19 situation will continue, despite an effort by the House of Representatives to end this expenditure of federal money. A priority of mine for several years, the Wood Energy Tax Credit program has been renewed. This program is a tremendous boost to sawmills, charcoal plants and other timber-related industries in our area. Also, a program intended to assist communities located near military installations remains in the budget.

A number of mental and behavioral health facilities located within our area will receive funding. The budget includes $500,000 for the Osage Beach Center for Cognitive Disorders, which provides services to residents of Camden, Laclede and Pulaski counties. A Rolla-based substance abuse treatment center is one of several facilities in Missouri that will benefit from increased funding for federally qualified health centers.

Once the final votes are cast on the budget, the Legislature will turn its attention back to passing priority legislation. We have one week remaining in the 2021 session, with a number of bills still moving through the legislative process. A lot can and will happen in the time remaining, so look for a future update on all we accomplished this session.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at for more information.