Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday signed into law the state’s roughly $48 billion budget for the new fiscal year, but vetoed more than $640 million in spending requested by the legislature.
Parson rejected 32 items added by state lawmakers in May as the state was flush with cash largely due to federal pandemic aid. Among the cuts were a Republican-led $500 million plan to send $500 checks to Missouri income taxpayers, an $83 million Missouri State Highway Patrol law enforcement academy and a $10 million plan to use lottery proceeds to pay for a grant program for charter school maintenance.
While Missouri House Republicans touted the tax credit plan — which would have matched the amount of income tax money a person owned the state in 2021 — as a way to provide tax relief to workers, Parson said it likely would have violated the state constitution because the legislature did not properly authorize the release of funds.
The governor also vetoed $2 million in federal money that would have helped pay for the construction of an industrial park in Johnson County.
Parson’s signature and vetoes on the state budget bookend a chaotic legislative session that was marred in infighting and filibusters among Republicans. It will go into effect on Friday. Missouri’s fiscal year starts in July.
In a statement after signing the budget, Parson touted the spending plan as conservative and balanced but threw in a jab at legislators in the Missouri General Assembly.
“This past session was often obstructed by petty infighting and personal political interests, but common sense prevailed,” he said. “We applaud members of the General Assembly for capitalizing on this opportunity and prioritizing the continued success of our state.”
Even with $640 million in cuts, Parson signed the majority of the budget approved by the Missouri General Assembly. It is infused with boosts to public universities, starting teacher pay, school transportation and Medicaid expansion.
“We want to thank all of the legislators who helped pass this historic budget that cements our state’s strong financial position and provides tremendous opportunities for Missourians, both today and tomorrow,” Parson said.
Under the new spending plan, the state’s minimum salary for starting teachers will rise to $38,000 from its current $25,000 — among the lowest in the country.
It also sends $3.6 billion to fully fund the state’s K-12 foundation formula, which is used to calculate how to pay for public schools. The state is also paying its full $328.4 million share of public school district busing costs for the first time in decades under the plan.
Among the other large projects are $955 million to improve the state’s Medicaid program, $104.7 million to help pay for a new law enforcement crime lab in Jefferson City and $30.5 million to implement the 988 suicide prevention hotline.
But missing from the record-setting budget is $500,000 requested by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to pay for five more attorneys for the Office of Solicitor General, which defends the state in lawsuits over constitutional issues. Parson on Thursday agreed to slash the money from the state’s spending plan.
The Missouri General Assembly proposed the cut in May in response to Schmitt’s decision to sue dozens of school districts over COVID-19 mask mandates.