Less than a month after taking office, new Gov. Mike Parson is putting his stamp on Missouri’s budget priorities.
And he’s gotten some help from an unexpected flurry of new money into state coffers, says state budget director Dan Haug.
On Friday, Parson signed state budget bills that, among other things, call for $99 million in additional spending for public education compared to the current fiscal year. He also has approved more money for school transportation.
Parson also has signed a measure that maintains state spending for higher education at the same level as this fiscal year. That means reversing the higher-ed cuts that former Gov. Eric Greitens had proposed.
The budget bills go into effect Sunday. The provisions include allocating $70 million for state construction projects and workforce development.
And Parson has approved bills that eliminate state health care spending that had gone to Planned Parenthood operations in the state. Planned Parenthood says the cut will affect about 7,000 low-income Missourians, primarily women, who had obtained health services from its clinics.
Lawmakers have been seeking for years to block state and federal money from going to Planned Parenthood because it operates the only abortion clinics in the state. Planned Parenthood has emphasized that the state money is used for health care services, and that none of it is used for abortions.
‘Flood’ of last-minute income
Parson also was able to release $195 million in state money in the current fiscal-year budget that had been frozen for months because of fears that spending the money could cause the state to end the fiscal year at a deficit. Overspending is not allowed under the state constitution.
Budget director Haug says the governor could release the money now because of “a flood’’ of last-minute income into state coffers.
Haug said that preliminary figures indicate that June saw sharp increases in individual income-tax collections, and in state sales taxes. “Revenues went way up,’’ he said.
The $195 million in withheld money had to be released because of the higher-than-expected state income. But the released money is merely an accounting move and won’t be able to be spent, because it’s too late in the fiscal year, Haug said. The money will be carried over.
“This is one of the craziest things I’ve seen in more than 20 years of following state revenues,’’ the budget chief added.