We are coming down to the final weeks of the 2021 legislative session, and some of the most important work is still to come. By law, the Missouri General Assembly has only one job, which is to craft the state’s operating budget each year.
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.
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 very seriously. Missouri’s fiscal year starts on July 1.
As we move toward finishing the budget for Fiscal Year 2022, we will take the necessary time to make sure tax dollars are spent wisely, and on only those services that are most needed in our state. Our only constitutional obligation, in my opinion, is also our most important task as lawmakers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.