Published January 24th, 2024 at 4:18 PM2 minute read
Spending from large federal grants and a shrinking but substantial state surplus will propel Missouri to record spending in the coming year if lawmakers adopt the $52.7 billion budget proposal from Gov. Mike Parson.
Unlike last year’s budget proposal, which included nearly $900 million from general revenue to improve Interstate 70, Parson has no large proposals for using the surplus that was nearly $6.4 billion at the end of December.
Instead, increases in ongoing spending, including raises for teachers, more for higher education and childcare and funding to study improvements on Interstate 44 are among the more notable items in the fiscal 2025 budget.
Last year, lawmakers boosted Parson’s plan for I-70 to $1.4 billion in general revenue and $1.4 billion in borrowed funds for widening the highway from Wentzville to Blue Springs. Interest from that money, about $14 million, will pay for studies to do the same for all or portions of I-44.
In an advance copy of his annual State of the State address, Parson said he’s proud of the investments his administration has made in roads and bridges.
“While road and bridge repair might not be the most exciting topic…it is one that impacts all Missourians the most,” Parson was expected to tell a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday.
Overall, the budget anticipates spending $15 billion from general revenue, which will reduce the surplus in that fund to about $1.5 billion by June 30, 2025.
Parson will leave office in January and that is the biggest surplus any governor has left the state, Aaron Willard, Parson’s chief of staff, told reporters shortly before Parson’s speech
“We really believe that we have overseen transformational changes in the state of Missouri, and I did not say that lightly,” Willard said.
Highlights of the budget proposal include:
When Parson signed the current year’s budget – after vetoing 201 spending items, totaling $555 million – the surplus of all state funds stood at about $8 billion. After transferring money for the I-70 project, plus setting aside $300 million for expansion of the Missouri Capitol Building, the surplus in all funds is about $6.4 billion, including $4.3 billion of general revenue.
Budget officials anticipate that the general revenue surplus will be reduced to about $3 billion by the end of June, when the fiscal year concludes.
Revenues are stable at about $13.1 billion annually but growth will be negligible. As a result, income tax cuts based on revenue growth will be delayed, officials said.
Through Tuesday, revenues during the current fiscal year have grown by 0.7% and if that trend continues, the treasury will take in $142 million more than estimated. That won’t, however, be enough to trigger the next step in a series of tax cuts passed during a fall 2022 special session.
The current top rate on income taxes is 4.8% and will fall to 4.7% in the year after revenues grow by at least $200 million. Two additional tax cuts, also predicated on $200 million in revenue growth, are also in state law.
Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy and the legislature in Missouri for the Missouri Independent, where this story first appeared. Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.