JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Missouri House of Representatives is getting an early start on outlining the state's budget a month before the beginning of the 2024 legislative session.
Appropriations subcommittees have meetings scheduled all week, the first one Monday at 10:30 a.m., to go over state departments' wants and needs for the next budget. This week, subcommittees on health and agriculture are scheduled.
Typically, lawmakers wait until the governor outlines his priorities in the State of the State address to begin work on the budget. However, in past years the budget passed just hours before the deadline, and lawmakers worked long hours to get it done.
During Monday's hearing, lawmakers said the early hearings are good because they're under a time crunch.
"it's good to hear you guys talk about it now. And so if the governor's rec does come back without it in there, we know some of the details," said. Rep. Michael O'Donnell (R-St. Louis).
The budget deadline is the first Friday in May, a week before the end of the regular legislative session. This earlier deadline allows for the legislature to focus on other priorities for that final week.
Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) is the ranking member on the House budget committee. He's not enthused with the December hearings. Merideth said the time crunch in past years comes from dysfunction among Republican lawmakers.
"I'm only worried that they're doing this in order to shortchange the part of the process later, where we really do need the time to dig in," Merideth said.
Since there are no budget bills filed yet, Merideth said the committees will have to meet again to go over each line item after January.
The governor and two chambers' budget chairs announced Friday that the projected general revenue collections for fiscal 2025 are $13.16 billion. The estimate shows a 0.2% growth in net general revenue in the past year, which is less than the 0.7% growth from 2023 to 2024.
The governor and the Republican budget leaders praised this as a conservative estimate.
"Our projected growth in revenue is lower due to Missourians keeping more of their hard-earned money in their pocket, which increases individual household income," said Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield).
The budget is expected to be relatively smaller in 2025, especially after two record years for 2024 and 2023. Last year, lawmakers added in a lot of one-time funding, including the $2.8 billion to expand I-70, as the state was flush with federal pandemic funds.
Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) said the legislature will have to be smarter when allocating funds in what's expected to be a smaller budget.
"I think when you're spending $35 billion, you need to spend as much time on it as possible to make sure that you're doing the right things," Rowden said.