While we all work hard during session to pass various bills to make Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family, the one thing the Legislature must do above all else is pass the state budget. This complicated process starts in January when the governor lays out his basic plan for funding the various programs and state agencies.
Thirteen legislative bills are then drafted by the House Budget Committee, which represent your tax dollars, as well as federal funding for various projects and state programs.
The budget bills are numbered 1 – 13 and came from the House to the Senate Appropriations Committee and then onto the Senate floor this week for discussion and debate.
The Senate made a few changes, and then sent the bills back to the House. If the House doesn’t agree with the changes, conference committees will be formed to come to a compromise upon which both bodies of the Legislature can agree.
Although the budget process is extremely complex and difficult, several highlights of the FY 2014 budget approved by the Senate are notable.
Education is always at the top of the state budget. This year, the Senate increased funding for the Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation Formula by $65.8 million.
Higher education institutions would see a $34 million increase, if the Senate's version is approved.
In addition, the upper chamber cut the Department of Revenue by $11 million for FY 2014.
The new conceal and carry permit requirements would require an appropriation of $2.1 million to comply with the measure recently passed by the Senate, which puts local sheriffs’ offices in charge of issuing CCW permits.
There will likely be more changes to the budget before it is due to the governor by 6 p.m. on May 10, but I am confident my colleagues and I are on task with the best interests of Missouri citizens in mind.
Always feel free to contact me throughout the year with any comments, questions, or issues by calling my office at (573) 751-5713 or by visiting my website at www.senate.mo.gov/brown.
Thank you for reading this and for your participation in state government.