GOVERNOR PROPOSES $25.58 STATE BUDGET FOR FY 2018
One day before the constitutional deadline for doing so, new Gov. Eric Greitens on Feb. 2 submitted a $25.58 billion state operating budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Although Greitens, a Republican, touted making $572 million in spending cuts from the current fiscal year, many of those cuts are offset by increases elsewhere.
Higher education in particular takes a big hit under Greitens budget, with a $159 million overall funding reduction, including $116.2 million from general revenue. Of the latter amount, four-year colleges and universities would see a $74 million general revenue cut, with an additional $14 million reduction targeting community colleges.
On K-12 funding, Greitens recommends an anemic $3.2 million bump to the $3.35 billion appropriated during the current fiscal year to support local public schools. Under state law, another $48 million is needed to claim full funding of K-12 schools in FY 2018. And that is after the Republican-controlled legislature enacted legislation last year to cut the amount needed for full funding by $400 million.
Greitens’ handling of the budget process to date has been unorthodox. Breaking with generations of practice, he opted not to present his budget during his State of the State address on Jan. 17. When he did so, he made his presentation not to lawmakers but before a preschool class in Nixa.
The Missouri Constitution requires the governor to submit a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the legislature within 30 days of the start of the legislative session. Greitens pushed that deadline further than any previous governor by submitting his budget on the 29th day. The delay by the governor means the legislature starts the budget process already behind schedule. Lawmakers must pass the various appropriations that will make up the FY 2018 state operating budget by no later than May 5.
LAWMAKERS REJECT PAY HIKES FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS
Missouri lawmakers and statewide elected officials won’t receive pay raises for at least two more years after the Senate voted 25-2 on Jan. 30 to pass a resolution rejecting pay hikes recommended by the State Salary Commission. The House of Representatives had approved the rejection measure, HCR 4, a week earlier on a 154-5-1 vote.
Lawmakers faced a Feb. 1 constitutional deadline to reject the raises or they automatically would have taken effect starting July 1. It has been nearly a decade since lawmakers and elected officials have received a pay increase.
Lawmakers currently earn $35,915 a year. The Salary Commission had called for them to received raises of $1,818 phased in over two years. Statewide elected officials would have received more significant increases over two years, ranging from a $14,3901 bump for the lieutenant governor, increases of $17,929 for the secretary of state, state auditor and state treasurer, a $19,375 hike for the attorney general and a $22,268 raise for the governor.
SO-CALLED ‘RIGHT-TO-WORK’ BILL SENT TO GOVERNOR
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Jan. 26 voted 100-59 to grant final approval to legislation that would make it a crime punishable by jail time for business owners to negotiate labor contracts that require workers to pay dues for the union representation they receive. Senate Bill 19, which previously passed the Senate, now goes to Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican who is expected to sign the measure into law.
As they did when passing the House version of the so-called “right-to-work” bill a week earlier, majority Republicans rejected an attempt by House Democrats to give voters the final say on the issue by putting SB 19 on the statewide ballot. Missouri voters overwhelmingly rejected right-to-work when it last appeared on the ballot in 1978.
Under SB 19, business owners face a penalty of up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine for requiring all employees in a bargaining unit, including those who choose not to join a union, to pay dues to cover the cost of representation.