A slow budget process is unfolding at the State Capitol. The Senate Appropriations Committee is hearing about needs throughout the state, painfully aware that money this year is tight and next year will likely be tighter.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) tells a crowded hearing room that the economic downturn has delivered a punch to the state budget. At present, state revenues are $96 million below what is needed to spend as planned when the legislature approved the budget last session. Nodler warns cuts could be coming.
Still, various groups have appeared and will appear before the committee requesting a place in next year’s budget. Some ask for an increase, ever so slight. Others ask simply to stand pat. Still others ask that programs cut in the past be restored.
Nearly all, such as Greg Wingert of the Missouri Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, acknowledge the tough economic times that most surely foretell a tight state budget for the next fiscal year. Most appearing before the committee rely on a simple pitch: asking senators to invest limited state resources in the people of Missouri.