The Missouri General Assembly has only one constitutional obligation, which is to pass a balanced budget each year. On the surface, this may seem like a simple goal. But, think about your own family budget. You have to factor in rent or a mortgage payment, car payment, utilities, food and anything else with a regular cost associated with it. It does not take long to realize how little money may be “left over” after taking care of your obligations. It is the same with the state’s budget, only on a larger scale.
The budget always starts in the Missouri House of Representatives. Their Budget Committee hears from not only department directors within state government, but from the general public. From there, the entire Missouri House discusses each of the 13 individual bills that make up the state budget. Amendments may be added to these measures in the House.
At the same time my colleagues in the Missouri House are doing their work, so is the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, which I have the pleasure of chairing. We also hear from department directors and the general public about their preferences and concerns over the spending plan for the next fiscal year.
Once the Missouri House of Representatives finalizes its version of the budget, it then comes to us. After more analysis, our committee sends the budget to the full Missouri Senate for consideration. As a long-standing tradition and courtesy, it is rare the upper chamber adds amendments to the budget on the floor of the Missouri Senate, but it does happen on occasion. After we finish our version of the budget, a Senate-House conference committee will hammer out differences, and then the budget bills will make a final trip through each chamber. This is where we are now. By law, the Legislature has to deliver the budget to the governor no later than 6 p.m. on May 6.
The governor then has until June 30 to sign each of the budget bills, and/or veto those individual line items he believes are unnecessary. In addition, the governor has the ability to withhold specific appropriations until the state has the funding for that specific item. Missouri law dictates we have a balanced budget, something we take seriously. Missouri’s fiscal year starts on July 1.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is email@example.com and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.