The Republican executive partially vetoed several appropriations bills, cutting line items amounting to nearly $115 million. The remaining budget emphasizes education, workforce development, and infrastructure, priorities of Parson’s administration. Cuts include allocations for charter school maintenance and incentives for state employees.
“When the 2021 legislative session began, Missouri was still experiencing some of the hardest days of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which affected every state agency and Missourian,” Parson said. “Yet, the Missouri General Assembly stayed the course and delivered a balanced budget that responsibly allocates taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”
Here’s a look at some of the items vetoed from this year’s budget and what the state’s chief executive kept intact.
What was vetoed?
A $5 million allocation of general revenue funds for deferred maintenance grants for charter schools was struck out; in his veto letter, the governor said the language was “unfairly limiting access to K-12 schools” and deferred maintenance was the responsibility of the charter sponsor, not the state. An additional $12.3 million was vetoed from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) budget, cutting a workforce diploma program for adults without a high school diploma, performance improvement initiatives, and teacher recruitment efforts in rural schools.
Budget Stabilization funds also saw several cuts: Parson vetoed $2 million for the design and construction of a center for rural health innovation, an expense he said was “inappropriate under a capital improvements bill.” An additional $1.9 million for a non-profit innovation district for streetscape improvements, as well as two other local projects, were also cut due to their “minimal statewide or regional impact.”
Additional security for each chamber of the legislature was also vetoed, with more than $300,000 in general revenue and two security staff cut from the budget. Parson said the allocation would be duplicative given the work of Capitol Police.
An additional veto cut $24 million to enhance pay rates for Department of Mental Health employees, as well as a $100,799 boost to the Department of Social Services’ director’s pay.
Parson also cut general revenue funds earmarked for performance incentives for employees across the various state departments, totaling more than $5 million. Parson said alternative incentive structures were being considered in their place. State workers will also see a 2 percent raise.
What did Parson sign off on?
The budget included several items related to infrastructure, a focal point of Parson’s administration. More than $154 million was earmarked for the State Road Fund, $10 million to increase broadband access to underserved areas, and $15 million for low-volume road maintenance and repair.
The appropriations also include substantial investments in education and workforce development, including $252 million for the state’s new Office of Childhood, $13 million for the A+ Program, and $8.5 million for the fully-funded Foundation Formula.
Additionally, Parson approved more than $30 million to recruit new employees for the departments of Mental Health and Corrections, as well as public defenders.
Parson moved on the budget shortly after approving a bill renewing the state’s Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), a tax on health care providers that receives a federal match; failure to renew the tax would have resulted in a loss of up to $5.7 billion in federal funding. The legislature concluded an extraordinary session dedicated to the renewal Wednesday, passing a three-year renewal to avoid more than $755 million in withholds Parson warned of last week.
“With billions of dollars in jeopardy and millions of livelihoods at stake, the majority of legislators put narrow political interests aside and passed an FRA renewal bill that protects Missouri’s most vulnerable populations and builds on our pro-life principles,” Parson said. “Without their efforts, we would be announcing unprecedented budget restrictions rather than these historic investments. To all those who helped get FRA across the finish line: We appreciate your work.”
The vetoes did not include items listed in Parson’s warnings, which ranged from major cuts to four-year universities to foster care and adoption services.
The legislature signed off on its budget the week before the end of the regular session. Lawmakers will return in September to assess Parson’s vetoes.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.