The Senate and House completed work on the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2012 this week. The $23 billion operating budget was approved by both chambers before the constitutional deadline at 6 p.m. on Friday. This year was a difficult year for the budget, but we were ultimately able to craft a spending plan that keeps us living within our means while providing for important programs and services.
The budget for the 2012 fiscal year goes into effect on July 1, 2011. In recent years, Missouri’s revenues have been low, and while we are seeing signs of recovery, spending reductions were necessary. Constitutionally, Missouri cannot spend more than we take in, so a balanced budget is crucial.
One of the key points of the Senate’s version of the budget was increases over the governor’s recommendations in funding for K-12 education transportation and public colleges and universities. The compromised version of the budget approved by the House and Senate includes these changes with a$10 million increase for K-12 transportation and a $12 million increase for higher education, compared to the governor’s recommendations.
Additional highlights from the FY 2012 budget include:
• An $8 million increase for in-home care providers over the governor’s budget recommendations.
• Full funding for the Missouri RX program of $19.6 million (legislation extending the sunset of the program still needs to pass the Legislature.)
• Funding for K-12 classrooms at the same level as last year.
The Legislature successfully overrode the governor’s veto of House Bill 193, the congressional redistricting map, this week. Since the veto override calls for a two-thirds majority vote, it is more difficult than passing legislation, which requires a simple majority vote. The last time the Legislature successfully accomplished a veto override was in 2003 when legislators voted to overturn three vetoes relating to concealed carry, lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and abortion.
This week’s veto override was also unique because it was done during the regular session, rather than during the annual veto session. This was possible because the governor vetoed the legislation before the final week of the session, which allowed the House and Senate to act to override the veto. The last time this was done was in 1980, when the Legislature overrode then-Gov. Teasdale’s veto on funding for the Truman State Office Building.
The Legislature’s override of the veto on HB 193 puts the map into effect.
We spent the night at the Capitol this week during an all-night filibuster by four senators. The group wanted to reject federal funding in a re-appropriations bill (money that was appropriated in a previous year, but not completely spent during that year). This is the same group that worked to hold up the unemployment benefits extension earlier this session. While we are all frustrated with overspending on the federal level, rejecting funds that we have essentially already spent is not the way to send a message to Washington. Not utilizing these funds would do nothing for our federal debt, and would most likely end up benefitting another state. At around 6 a.m., after more than 12 hours, the filibuster ended and there was little to show for their efforts. Ultimately I felt it was a waste of time for the members of the Senate and the Legislature as a whole.
This report is filed at the end of each week during the legislative session. This report was filed at the close of business last week.