Gov. Parson signs $47.5B Missouri budget, cutting tax rebates and two Springfield projects

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Gov. Mike Parson signed the state budget for fiscal year 2023 on Thursday evening, approving a $47.5 billion spending plan driven by federal dollars and surplus revenue from the state.

The budget funds K-12 education and school transportation fully while raising the minimum teacher salary from $25,000 to $38,000; the entirety of Medicaid expansion costs; more than $600 million for water infrastructure projects; over $350 million for broadband internet expansion; and countless other projects and priorities spanning the state. It went into effect Friday morning, the first day of the fiscal year.

Parson struck almost $644 million from lawmakers' final budget with his veto pen, cutting 32 line-items — including two Springfield infrastructure projects and a $500 million tax rebate program pushed by Republican leaders in the House.

"With record revenues, strong economic performance, and significant sums of Missourians' federal tax dollars returning to our state, this session we met the moment and approved strategic investments that will serve generations of Missourians," Parson said in a statement.

Lawmakers came to Jefferson City in January faced with more money than has ever been available — hundreds of millions in projected surplus from revenues and taxes, as well as billions from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The months-long budget process took the General Assembly until just hours before the constitutional deadline to deliver to the governor's desk, clocking in at around $49 billion before Parson's cuts. The wide-ranging plan largely satisfied members from all regions and both sides of the aisle, with many Democrats voting in support of the Republican-led legislature's final proposal.

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Tax rebate, Jordan Creek & Jefferson Avenue footbridge nixed

The bulk of money cut by Parson was $500 million intended for income tax rebates of up to $500 — a priority pushed by Republican leaders in the House as a way to deliver some of the state's surplus back to taxpayers.

Democrats opposed the measure, arguing that most taxpayers would receive very little and that the money was better invested in state priorities and programs. In the Senate, the minority party attached an income cap of $150,000 per individual to the measure.

In the end, it was struck from the budget by Parson, who said in a veto letter that because the withdrawal of the money from a certain state fund was not authorized by lawmakers, the rebates would "likely" be unconstitutional. Shortly after the legislative session ended in May, he expressed hesitation in signing off on the program.

Parson also cut a number of projects that were set to receive federal funds, two of which were located in Springfield.

Jordan Creek will no longer see $7.5 million for a public park space, and $5 million dedicated to repairing the historic Jefferson Avenue Footbridge was also scrapped.

Neither of the projects were in Parson's initial budget proposal; they were added by Sen. Lincoln Hough, Springfield's Republican senator and vice chair of the budget committee.

The governor wrote in his veto letter that the money for the footbridge, which has seen hiccups in repair attempts through city contractors, requires the Missouri Department of Transportation to concur with the city on a bid award "that has not yet occurred."

Money for Jordan Creek, meanwhile, could be sought "through other state programs," Parson wrote. But he also pointed to the legislature's "resistance to funding public trail spaces along waterways that have a statewide or regional impact, demonstrated economic return to local communities and the state, and significant citizen interest and advocacy."

His reasoning is likely a reference to Hough's vocal opposition to funding for building a trail along the Rock Island Railroad passage. Senators on the budget committee cut more than $69 million from the project that Parson had initially recommended. Hough had said in a committee vote at the time that he preferred the money go toward existing state parks spaces.

Other prominent vetoes include $83 million in federal funds for a highway patrol academy and $10 million for maintenance at charter schools in St. Louis and Kansas City through a grant program.

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What's in Missouri's new state budget?

Education will see its full allocation of state dollars for another fiscal year under the budget, as will school transportation, which will see the most money in decades. Colleges and universities will see $460 million invested into construction and improvement projects, while almost $430 million will go toward child care and early childhood education. Other education and workforce development items include:

  • $51.6 million of new core funds for colleges and universities.

  • $30 million for the Missouri One Start program to train workers, assist employers and upgrade training.

  • $7 million for dual credit and enrollment scholarships.

  • $6 million for A+ schools program.

MO HealthNet — the state's health care program for low-income residents — receives full funds ($955 million) to continue expanding as approved by voters and ordered by the courts, despite opposition last year by many Republicans. Other health, public safety and economic items include:

  • Almost $149 million for community health providers to expand services to underserved populations.

  • Nearly $105 million for a new public safety crime lab to assist local law enforcement.

  • $78.6 million for a new state health lab.

  • $30 million for local tourism.

  • $2.5 million for the prescription drug monitoring program.

A number of prominent one-time infrastructure investments, fueled prominently by federal dollars, also fulfilled a budget priority for Parson. Prominent infrastructure items, alongside the money for water and broadband improvements, include:

  • $160 million for "efficient and innovative" transportation projects.

  • $100 million for rural road repairs.

  • $8.5 million for rural teleheath access.

  • $12.9 million for public transit.

Despite vetoes for Jordan Creek and Jefferson Avenue footbridge funds, a number of other Springfield projects and programs are receiving money through the state budget — including grants for the Springfield-Greene County Library District, the Discovery Center, the Drew Lewis Foundation, Care to Learn, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and others.

Galen Bacharier covers Missouri politics & government for the News-Leader. Contact him at gbacharier@news-leader.com, (573) 219-7440 or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Missouri Gov. MIke Parson signs budget, but vetoes tax credit program