At the close of this legislative week, there will only be three weeks left in the First Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly. Bills are moving rapidly between chambers, and debate is lively. However, my colleagues and I have also been busy with the progression of the state operating budget for FY 2014.
The long process to draft and approve the state budget begins in January with the governor’s State of the State address. At that time, the governor presents his suggestions for Missouri’s fiscal allotments. Then the House Budget Committee drafts the 13 bills that represent all state funds. Another budget bill, House Bill 14, provided supplemental funding needed to assist various budgets to the end of the current fiscal year, June 30. That measure passed both the House and the Senate and has already been delivered to and signed by the governor in order for that funding to be released.
The budget bills, House Bills 1-13, were delivered from the House to the Senate in early April. This week, after weeks of discussion by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate passed all 13 bills with some changes, sending them back to the House for review. If the House doesn’t approve the deviations, conference committees, made up of three representatives and five senators, will be named to work out the differences.
The budget process is exhaustive and detailed. However, the work that goes into it is in the best interests of this great state, and the people of Missouri deserve no less than a fiscally responsible budget that provides the best possible outcome.
Some highlights of the FY 2014 budget approved by the Senate include:
• A 2.4 percent increase of funding over FY 2013 to Elementary and Secondary Education, including a $65.8 million increase to fund the foundation formula.
• A $34 million funding increase to public higher education institutions.
• A reduction of the Department of Revenue’s budget by approximately $11 million, which includes $1 million from General Revenue and 37 jobs.
• An appropriation of $2.1 million to help the Highway Patrol with new conceal carry permit requirements passed by the Senate.
Of course, there will be more changes made to the budget, as the Senate has sent its approved version back to the House. I will keep you updated on significant changes as we move forward. The final budget is due to the governor by 6 p.m. on Friday, May 10.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lee’s Summit.