One of the constitutionally mandated jobs of the General Assembly is to draft a fiscally responsible budget and deliver it to the governor by 6:00 p.m. on the Friday of the first full week of May.
The process of drafting the budget generally begins with the governor’s State of the State address, where he outlines his priorities and thoughts for the next fiscal year.
At that time, the House drafts the budget bills, the 13 bills that make up the spending plan for the state. The Senate hears testimony from each state department on the needs and wants for their areas. When the House bills come over to the Senate for consideration, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee review them line by line.
This year, the General Assembly sent the budget bills to the governor’s desk for his signature on Thursday, May 8, one full day before the deadline. With a total operating budget of $26.4 billion, there are a couple of instances where lawmakers differed with the governor’s thoughts.
Education gained an almost $115 million increase over the $3.1 billion earmarked for state aid for public schools. However, should revenues extend the beyond the projected number, that number could rise to $278 million.
Funding for higher education was added to the budget to the tune of nearly $43 million for performance-based funding, a model that more than 30 states are currently utilizing. Performance funding allows the institution to take on the responsibility of funding in-house, to work toward a higher amount of funding doing what schools do best: educate our state’s students.
The budget also contains funding to construct the new Fulton State Hospital. I am glad we found the funds in the budget to make these needed improvements. There were several discussions about bonding this and other projects, but when we can pay for capital improvements up front, taxpayers save considerably.
Finally, the budget included an $8 million increase in funding for the Veterans Homes Operating Fund. The Legislature has continually made sure we take care of our state’s veterans.
State Senator Will Kraus-R serves District Eight and is a resident of Lees Summit.