Passing a Budget that Reflects Our Values
Members of the Missouri General Assembly have only one constitutional obligation during each legislative session. Our state constitution does not require lawmakers to pass a certain amount of bills or hold a specific number of committee hearings; it only asks lawmakers to pass a balanced budget that funds the resources and services provided by the state. Often times, our spending habits reflect our values, and I believe the same can be said about the state’s budget.
Thirteen appropriations bills make up the state’s $34 billion operating budget for the state’s 2022 fiscal year. Our budget, once again, fully funds the state’s K-12 education foundation formula. After paying our state’s debts, the education of our children should be our state’s No. 1 priority. By fully funding the state’s foundation formula, I believe we are sending a strong message that Missouri values education and the role it plays in preparing our children for their future. The Senate’s budget also includes a $20 million increase in funding for school transportation costs. In rural school districts, similar to the 10th Senatorial District, this additional funding is vital to ensure children safely make it to and from school.
In addition, I was able to add two new data analyst positions to the newly created Office of Childhood. Housed in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, this new office provides a comprehensive approach to early childhood care and education in our state. During the budget process, it was brought to my attention the new office did not have enough data analysts to support and track the office’s home visit programs. Through these additional staff, I believe the office will have the resources it needs to successfully track and analyze the outcomes of these voluntary visits.
The Missouri Senate’s version of the state’s FY 2022 spending plan also includes $15 million to fund improvements for low volume roads. Commonly referred to as letter routes in rural areas, many of us drive these roads every day, and they play a vital role in our communities. Also in the state budget, I was able to add language ensuring I-70 does not become a toll road. If the section of I-70 running through Missouri was ever allowed to become a toll road, I believe it would have a devastating effect on the small towns and cities along the I-70 corridor — especially the ones in the 10th Senatorial District.
I was proud to support several funding items that affect the residents of the 10th Senatorial District. Lincoln County’s Not Our Children Taskforce is set to receive $300,000 to address incidents of child abuse and neglect occurring in the county. Unfortunately, in 2019, Lincoln County reported more than 680 incidents of child abuse and neglect, a 9.3% increase from 2011. In addition, I was thankful to see Lincoln County’s requested $200,000 for a Community in Schools Program receive approval by the Senate. This funding will help the county’s students reach their full potential.
Furthermore, the Senate’s budget includes important funding for our state’s colleges and universities; a modest pay raise for our hardworking state employees; and critical care for disabled and low-income Missourians. Overall, the budget funds essential programs and services that are vital to our state, and I believe this budget ensures our government remains funded, open and able to serve the people of the Show-Me State.
It is an honor to be your state senator, and my door is always open to your concerns, questions or comments. Please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-2757 or visit my web page at www.senate.mo.gov/riddle.