Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder’s Legislative Column for May 2, 2022

Budget Work Continues

Last week, the full Senate took up and passed revisions to Missouri’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget recommended by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Fourteen separate appropriations bills were passed by the Senate, each relating to different agencies or obligations of the state. One of these bills has moved onto the governor’s desk, but thirteen others will go to conference committees this week. Those committees will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions. The final compromise versions of the budget bills will come before both chambers of the Legislature to be voted on prior to the constitutional deadline on May 6.

We won’t know exactly what the budget is going to look like until all that is done, but we do have a good idea of the general picture. The budget is huge; larger than any previous budget passed in Missouri history. Depending on which spending proposals are accepted, next year’s operating budget will be somewhere in the range of $43 billion to $45 billion. In addition, there are also appropriations bills that devote money to capital improvements and maintenance at state facilities that could add a few billion more. To put the size of the 2023 budget in perspective, remember last year’s budget was approximately $35 billion, so we’ll see an increase of about $10 billion.

As a fiscal conservative, I am concerned about the increase in our state spending, but I also understand that this year is not like other years. Like every other state in America, Missouri has received an incredible amount of money from the federal government. In the past year or so, Congress has passed a series of spending bills intended to help states respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, fund infrastructure projects and to stimulate the economy. So, unlike most years when our budget planners are scrimping and saving to make ends meet, this year we’re able to do a lot of things that, hopefully, have long-term impact, like money towards broadband in our rural areas and other infrastructure needs.

One of the things the Senate chose to do as it reviewed the budget was devote more money for school transportation. The state of Missouri is supposed to fund 75% of the cost of transporting children to school, with local districts picking up the rest. We rarely meet that target. This year, the Senate budget fully funds the state’s school transportation obligation. The House didn’t do this, so that difference will have to be sorted out in conference, but if it goes through it will be a huge benefit to our rural schools. Every dollar local districts spend out of their own budgets for fuel, bus maintenance and drivers is a dollar they don’t have available for the classroom.

There are a lot of other worthwhile expenditures in the budget bills. The Senate answered the governor’s call for improvements to rural roads and budgeted $100 million for work on lettered highways – those are the roads you and I drive on in rural areas. We’re spending another $148 million on road and bridge projects throughout the state. The information superhighway also gets a boost with about $50 million for rural broadband expansion. And like any responsible family would do when they get a windfall, we’re paying off debt, with $100 million earmarked to retire state bonds.

Again, the budget isn’t done, and there’s more work ahead this week. We have to get the budget to the governor by Friday evening, so I hope to have more information to share with you soon.

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 Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to or visit