A balanced state budget that contains record funding for elementary and secondary education is now on its way to the governor’s desk. This week we gave final approval to the appropriations bills that make up the $29.7 billion state spending plan that provides funding to the state’s departments and programs.
For the third consecutive year, the budget approved by the General Assembly fully funds the school foundation formula with a total of $3.94 billion in funding. The total represents an increase of more than $61 million and brings the amount of funding for K-12 public schools to its highest level in state history. The education budget also includes a $5 million increase for a total of $108 million in funding for transportation expenses for local school districts. Additionally, the budget includes a $3 million increase for the Parents as Teachers program. In total, funding for pre-K-12 education is increased by $116 million in the spending plan approved by the legislature.
In the budget process, the General Assembly agreed to provide an additional $1 million in core funding for most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities. During the discussion on higher education funding, House members also fought to preserve language that prevents colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition to students with unlawful immigration status. The language was placed in the budget in 2015 in an effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are used only for students who are legal Missouri residents. While the Senate initially moved to remove the language, the House fought to keep it, and the two legislative bodies ultimately agreed to the House position. As a result, these students will continue to pay international tuition rates. The language in the budget will also continue to prohibit institutions of higher learning from providing these students with state-sponsored scholarships.
The budget plan also makes it a priority to fund repairs for the state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. It includes critical funding that is part of a proposal to fix 250 bridges statewide. The budget contains $50 million in funding for the repairs, which would be used in conjunction with a $301 million bonding plan that still requires House approval and also requires the state to receive a sizable federal infrastructure grant. In the budget, House and Senate members also agreed to allocate $50 million in funding for a cost-sharing program that will allow the state transportation department to provide a 50/50 match to counties and municipalities to improve local roads and bridges.
Other budget highlights include:
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- $300,000 for school safety grants across the state
- $1 million of spending approved to make improvements to the Missouri School for the Blind
- Funding of Missouri scholarships:
- The newly proposed workforce development scholarship, Fast Track, is funded at $10 million
- $500,000 increase for A+ Scholarships
- Nearly $1 million increase for Access Missouri Scholarships
- $19.5 million increase to colleges and universities for ongoing operations
- $18.9 million in funding for MoExcels higher education workforce development initiatives
- $10 million is appropriated for the translational precision medical center to be built at the University of Missouri – Columbia
- $1.8 million will go to Missouri Southern State University to help expand healthcare and STEM programs
- $5.3 million increase to support adult high schools
- $1.1 million increase to restore prior year cuts to aid public libraries
Infrastructure and Economic Development:
- As part of a larger compromise related to transportation spending, the General Assembly authorizes borrowing up to $301 million over a seven-year period if enough federal INFRA grant funds are received to replace the I-70 bridge over the Missouri River at Rocheport (replacement costs projected at over $240 million)
- $10 million for major water reservoir projects
- $5 million in general revenue to match federal dollars for improving rural broadband infrastructure
- $347,338 to initiate a new plant industries program (industrial hemp)
- $17.35 million to fund the governor's One Start initiative for economic development and customized training
- $300,000 for the brand new Missouri Military Community Reinvestment Program
- The reorganization of the Department of Economic Development across DHE, DNR, DIFP, and lieutenant governor's office is transferred and funded
- $13.5 million of Volkswagen settlement funds appropriated to clean air projects and grants
- $10.4 million for port projects along Missouri rivers
- $10.8 million in road funds to MoDOT for flood-related expenses, plus $6 million to the Department of Public Safety for flood-related expenses
- Tourism funding is increased $4.7 million over FY19 funding