MISSOURI, (Missourinet).– The Missouri Legislature will have a big job now that lawmakers are back to work – dealing with a projected state budget shortfall of about $700 million. Members have been on break for about one month due to the coronavirus threatening the state.
The Missouri House of Representatives is considering a revised state budget for the fiscal year beginning in July. The $34.9 billion budget outline is about a $4.5 billion increase over Gov. Mike Parson’s original fiscal plan released in January. It includes $10 billion in state general revenue, $14.5 billion in federal funding and $10.3 billion in other funds.
The blueprint includes two major differences from what Gov. Parson recommended in January. The latest version no longer includes a 2% pay raise that Parson recommended for most state workers and MoHealthnet is planning to use a savings plan in which the state moves to an outpatient fee schedule that is tied to Medicare. According to Chris Dunn with Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith’s office, upwards of $90 million would be saved in hospital and managed care reimbursements.
The revised budget plan includes about $10.4 billion to the Missouri Department of Social Services. Most of the Social Services budget goes to Medicaid costs.
About $3.5 billion in base funding would go to Missouri’s K-12 public schools – the same amount as in the current year’s budget. As for school bus transportation, $100 million is being proposed – a reduction of about $7 million compared to the current budget year.
$1.5 billion to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development – a roughly $200 million increase over the current year. The figure includes both the general revenue cuts that Representative Smith proposed and an increase of federal authority should federal funds be made available to support the state’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities.
The Department of Corrections budget proposal would be about $805 million – a $24 million increase over the current year. About $38.5 million would go to reimbursing county jails for transporting inmates and holding offenders who end up going to state prison – the same amount the counties will receive this budget yet.
The Missouri Department of Transportation would get about $3 billion, compared to $2.93 billion in the current year’s budget.
Under the latest plan, there is a net increase of three full-time equivalent (FTE) state workers in the House budget (totaling 53,935 workers). This includes 197.5 FTEs the governor requested to be added in the Department of Public Safety to help with the pandemic, but it also includes a sizeable cut of 128 FTE in the Department of Corrections. As the offender population has decreased, Corrections plans to consolidate certain housing units so that housing units can be closed. This is allowing the department to reduce vacant FTE.
The Missouri House is debating the budget bills and final approval is expected today. Then the Missouri Senate will go from there. Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says the Senate Appropriations Committee is planning to take up the budget on Saturday and work through the weekend.
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