Last week I had the honor to deliver resolutions to retiring teachers in the Lesterville and Potosi School Districts. I appreciate the many years of service they have provided to educating our students.
On Friday I had the opportunity to attend the FFA Banquet at Arcadia Valley. These students have worked so hard all year and I enjoyed visiting with them and their families and seeing them receive all their awards.
On Saturday I went to the Lions Club Fish Fry in Williamsville, great music, food and fellowship! It was so nice having Mayor Bob Lourwood of Ironton stop by my office this week for a visit. Bob is always good to keep me informed of legislation that directly affects his town.
House and Senate Give Final Approval to State Operating Budget (HBs 2001-2013)
The members of the House and Senate this week gave final approval to a state spending plan that will make a record investment in K-12 public education. The $28.3 billion state operating budget approved by the General Assembly will fully fund the school foundation formula for the second consecutive year. Additionally, the plan keeps funding stable for Missouri’s institutions of higher learning, which will minimize potential tuition increases for students.
The budget as it left the House achieved full funding for K-12 public schools with a $99 million funding increase. The Senate then reduced that number by approximately $50 million, but bumped up funding for school transportation by $25 million. The final version includes the $99 million increase to achieve full funding, which also includes $50 million in new funding for early childhood education. The final spending plan also boosts transportation funding by $10 million.
The final version of the fiscally responsible spending plan is based on a sensible consensus revenue estimate that will avoid shortfalls that could force the governor to withhold funds. This year’s budget plan enforces fiscal discipline by holding welfare spending in check. It also includes a budget reserve of $100 million to allow for emergency spending needs.
The budget approved by the General Assembly also has a strong commitment to transparency. The budget plan breaks down spending for the state’s legal expense fund, which previously had no system in place to track how dollars are spent to pay for settlements and judgments against state agencies. In addition, the spending plan improves transparency for spending within the state’s conservation department, and for dollars allocated to home-delivered meals. The budget also makes a $34-million fund in the Department of Corrections transparent and accountable for the first time.
Other highlights of the FY 2019 Budget include:
• Funding increases recommended by the governor for the state’s scholarship programs, which include a $2 million increase for Access Missouri, $3.5 million in additional funds for the A+ Scholarship Program; and an additional $1 million for Bright Flight.
• $2 million increase in funding towards two-year colleges for the Missouri SkillUP Program that provides free job training and employment opportunities for low-income Missourians.
• $300,000 in new funding for school safety grants.
• $250,000 to a new Kindergarten through 3rd Grade reading assessment program for dyslexia diagnoses.
• $1.8 million increase in funding for the state’s independent living centers, which help people with disabilities to increase their independence and their opportunity to participate in day-to-day life within their communities.
• $4 million in state support for Missouri’s Access to Recovery program and peer support, which helps individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders and provides the tools needed for long-term recovery.
• $5 million in new money to provide community-based services that will allow those battling substance abuse to receive appropriate treatment as an alternative to prison.
• $1 million increase for the state’s drug treatment courts to partially restore an FY18 cut.
Community and Economic Issues
• $8.5 million increase in funding for the First Steps Program that provides services to families with children, birth to three years of age, with disabilities or developmental delays.
• A 1% pay increase for state employees starting January 1st, 2019. (Does not include legislators).
• $374,000 for a physician prescription monitoring program to curb opioid abuse.
• $4.75 million increase over the governor’s recommendation for tourism funding and grants ($14.75 million total).
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Missouri 144th District State Representative Chris Dinkins, R-Annapolis, files a report every week while the state legislature is in session.