Funding Education and Health Care
The Missouri Constitution allows the governor 45 days after the close of the legislative session to veto bills passed by the General Assembly. It was gratifying to reach this milestone this year with just four bills vetoed, and only a handful of line-item changes to the budget bills we passed. I was pleased to work with my colleagues in passing a responsible balanced budget that will meet the needs of many Missourians. There are a number of provisions in the appropriations bills that I advocated for, and was glad to see included in the final budget.
Near the top of my priorities as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee was ensuring Missouri’s education programs are adequately funded. As a school lady for more than 40 years, I’ve seen firsthand the needs of our students, and I believe providing the resources young Missourians need for a quality education is the best way to ensure their future success. The budget we passed this year fully funds the K-12 school foundation formula, but also meets the state’s obligation for local school transportation costs for the first time in years. Among the education-related appropriations approved this year was funding for career ladder pay schedules for Missouri teachers and grant assistance for schools that choose to increase minimum teacher salaries to $38,000.
Next year’s budget also provides historic funding to help prepare students for post-secondary opportunities. More than $25.5 million was included for vocational and technical education centers around the state. Also included was $7.5 million for the West Plains campus of Missouri State University. This appropriation will go toward the construction of an autism education center to train paraprofessionals who work with those diagnosed with autism, and to help those with autism receive post-secondary education so they too can achieve their dreams.
Another of my budget priorities was securing additional money for rural health care in the 33rd Senatorial District, including a direct $1 million appropriation for Texas County Memorial Hospital. Updating and expanding this facility’s surgical center will help provide additional and enhanced services in the region, and save constituents from having to travel long distances for health care. We also locked in $1.25 million for MSU-West Plains to help complete a nursing simulation lab that will help address a shortage of nurses across the state.
As much as I appreciated additional money for these programs, I was equally gratified that we will not spend a single dime on Planned Parenthood. Every year the Missouri Legislature includes a line item declaring no tax dollars will pay for abortion, and this year we specifically forbid money for Planned Parenthood. That language carries even more weight now that the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Within minutes of the court’s ruling, our governor enacted Missouri’s “Right to Life of the Unborn Act,” making Missouri the first state in the nation to effectively end abortion. Combined with our Planned Parenthood funding prohibition, we’ve successfully defended life and will continue to
Among the few bills the governor vetoed this year was one that would have provided a tax credit of “up to” $500 per person on their 2022 tax returns. The governor nixed the bill containing this provision because he said few Missourians would actually receive the maximum amount. Instead, he has called for an extra legislative session to advance more comprehensive tax relief. With out-of-control inflation causing record price increases, I agree it’s time to do something for hardworking Missourians. I look forward to seeing the specifics of his proposal and working with the governor’s office to bring common sense tax relief to Missourians.
It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011. You can also visit my webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.