Every year, Missouri lawmakers are charged with passing an on-time and balanced budget. After months of committee hearings and countless hours of focused discussion and intense debate, the Senate last week approved its version of the state’s $27.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018. With that, the General Assembly moved one step closer to fulfilling our only constitutionally mandated responsibility.
The biggest challenges we’ve faced this session have largely pertained to managing our Medicaid budget, which increasingly consumes more of our discretionary revenue with every passing year, and funding our public education system. Due to the state’s strained finances, some tough choices had to be made.
Despite the difficulties we’ve encountered, however, we were able to fully fund K-12 public education for the first time since the Legislature passed the Foundation Formula in 2005. Even though we’ve continued to allocate additional resources, a variety of circumstances have prevented us from hitting that goal of full funding. Although we’ll have to make some adjustments in other areas of the budget to accommodate the fully funded Foundation Formula, this really is a big accomplishment, and I’m pleased we were able to do this for Missouri’s schools, teachers and, most especially, our students.
Our ultimate goal with the budget process is always to make government more fruitful and efficient, giving Missouri taxpayers as much of a return on their investment as we can. The road to passing a balanced budget that meets the most pressing needs of our state is a long and tedious one, but we’re once again nearing the finish line. Next up, the House and Senate will meet in conference to reconcile any remaining differences between our two budgets. My fellow lawmakers and I have until 6 p.m., Friday, May 5, to send our finalized budget to the governor and meet our constitutional deadline.
As always, please feel free to call, email, or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.