(The Center Square) – On the day Gov. Mike Parson signed into law an extension for Medicaid funding – passed by the legislature after the threat of $700 million in budget cuts – he trimmed $115 million in budgeted spending with 26 line-item vetoes.
Gov. Parson on Wednesday and Thursday signed more than a dozen Fiscal Year 2022 state operating budget bills. The Missouri FY22 state budget is about $35.6 billion, including $10.5 billion in general revenue.
“Missouri’s financial situation is vastly different from what we faced in 2020, and we applaud the General Assembly for recognizing this historic opportunity to make critical investments for the future of our state,” Parson said in a statement.
In financial statements reporting on the last 11 months and through May, the state had a surplus of $1.2 billion. Last year, the state had a deficit of $802 million in May, compared to a $288 million surplus for the month this year.
“We’re in a time where the surplus is important because we are in a pandemic,” said state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis. “I understand we’re in an unknown time, so it’s good to have money in that bank account. But we also need to make sure that when the times get tough, we have a strong foundation and strong infrastructure. I think a lot of the money the governor vetoed makes the infrastructure just a little bit weaker as we’re trying to make sure our state stays healthy.”
In a letter explaining his vetoes for each House appropriations bill, Parson said his reason for many of the vetoes was the item had minimal regional or statewide impact, or other funding mechanisms should be pursued in lieu of state funding.
The major line-item vetoes include:
- $2 million for the design and construction of a center for Rural Health Innovation
- $1.9 million for a non-profit innovation district for street scape improvements
- $2.6 million for a Library Networking Fund for library networking grants
- $1.1 million for funding performance incentives for high-achieving employees
- $1 million for expansion of the Missouri Rx Plan
- $50 million from Federal Medical Assistance Percentage Enhancement Fund for distribution to Missouri hospitals losing money due to changes in Medicaid payment methodology
- $5 million for deferred maintenance grants for charter school facilities
- $2 million for a workforce diploma program for adults without a high school diploma
- $2.3 million for the School Turnaround Fund (Parson noted performance measures and program outcomes for three schools should be reviewed to determine program effectiveness prior to expanding to additional schools.)
- $3 million for recruiting and placing full-time dedicated postsecondary advisors in up to 40 rural high schools
Among other cuts was approximately $151,000 for two security staff for the Senate as the governor stated it duplicated services already provided by the Capitol Police.
Parson mentioned the importance of passing the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) to extend Medicaid coverage during the special session of the legislature in the last days of June.
“With billions of dollars in jeopardy and millions of livelihoods at stake, the majority of legislators put narrow political interests aside and passed an FRA renewal (Medicaid) bill that protects Missouri’s most vulnerable populations and builds on our pro-life principles,” Parson said in a statement. “Without their efforts, we would be announcing unprecedented budget restrictions rather than these historic investments. To all those who helped get FRA across the finish line: we appreciate your work.”
In a statement announcing the budget actions, Parson highlighted the following infrastructure spending:
- $154.4 million for State Road Fund construction projects
- $60.2 million in bonding authority for state park improvement projects
- $21 million for maintenance and repair projects at State Highway Patrol facilities
- $15 million for low-volume road maintenance and repair
- $10 million to increase broadband access in underserved areas
- $6.3 million for port capital improvement projects
Parson noted the following items in education and workforce development spending:
- $252.7 million and 121 staff from various state agencies to support the newly created Office of Childhood
- $20.2 million over FY22 spending levels to four-year institutions of higher education
- $13.2 million to support the A+ Schools Scholarship Program
- $10 million for community colleges
- $8.5 million to fully fund the foundation formula
- $8.4 million for early childhood special education programs
- $3.9 million to support the Bright Flight program
- $2.7 million to support the Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant Program
- $2 million for State Technical College
- $2 million to grow Missouri’s new and emerging high-tech industry
- $750,000 for 12,000 additional students to take the ACT Work Keys and Career Readiness Assessment
- $200,000 for the Main Street Program
The following health and safety expenditures were highlighted in the governor’s release:
- $166.3 million to increase development disability service provider rates
- $15 million to establish six new crisis stabilization centers and further support existing ones
- $8.3 million to expand the Behavioral Healthcare Home Program
- $5.3 million for 50 additional Community Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Liaisons
- $3.6 million and 53 staff members to address waitlists in Missouri’s Public Defender system
- $1 million in grants for violent crime prevention, community engagement, and law enforcement mental health support
- $21.5 million to recruit and retain quality Department of Corrections employees
- $6 million for county jail reimbursements
- $2.5 million to further support recidivism reduction programs
- $2.6 million and 11 State Highway Patrol Troopers to assist in violent crime investigations across the state
- $1.1 million for the Operation Legend Grant Program
- $1 million for the state’s witness protection fund
- $575,000 to provide grant funding for law enforcement officer safety equipment
Originally Appeared Here