Bringing Federal Dollars Home
Last week, the Missouri General Assembly met its constitutional obligation and passed a balanced budget for the coming fiscal year. Due to economic recovery and infrastructure investment programs passed by Congress, as well as robust economic activity in the state, Missouri is currently enjoying an unprecedented budget surplus. As the Senate Appropriations Committee considered how best to allocate this historic influx of federal dollars, we looked for projects that would have long-standing impact in communities around the state. I am happy to report that, as a member of this committee, I was able to secure more than $94 million in funding for institutions and facilities within the 16th Senatorial District. This is in addition to the normal year-to-year, in-district appropriations for on-going programs such as K-12 education through the school foundation formula.
Like a lot of Americans, I am concerned about the debt obligations congressional programs will impose on our children and grandchildren, but I was not convinced residents of the five counties I represent should decline these resources out of principle. These federal dollars represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make transformative changes in the Senate district and I was determined that we received our share of the pie.
Thanks to these federal programs, the Legislature is able to fund long-delayed maintenance needs, capital improvements and construction of new facilities that have not been possible during normal budget years. These projects will bring jobs and demand for materials to our communities and leave a lasting legacy, with new and expanded facilities throughout the district. Among the projects included in next year’s budget are a $3 million renovation to the airport at Fort Leonard Wood, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements for the city of Rolla expected to total more than $2 million and a $4 million investment in the emergency services department and a new heliport at Phelps Health.
The list of projects and programs receiving money in the 2023 budget is varied and extensive. Senior centers in Pulaski and Phelps counties will receive $430,000 of the $2.5 million the Legislature earmarked for senior centers statewide. We appropriated $5 million for design and construction at the Jordan Valley Center, a community health facility in Lebanon. This center provides medical, dental and behavioral health services, workforce development programs and increased access to preventive care for children and families. Also in the budget is $15 million to fund grants to Missouri-based organizations engaged in developing pharmaceutical ingredients, semiconductors and other components fundamental to national security.
The budget passed by the Legislature will bring historic and long-lasting improvements to our region. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I can assure you that every effort was made to consider each funding request carefully and allocate money wisely. We focused on one-time projects that could be funded out of the resources available this year, and this year alone. This federal money will not be available in future years, so it was critical we made the best use of it now. I believe we did that.
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 https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.