Much more detail has been released by the Nixon Administration on how it proposes Missouri use the estimated $4 billion coming to the state from the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package approved by Congress.
Officials with the administration also reiterated their contention that they do not plan to use any of the federal money to pay for on-going state expenses.
Governor Nixon’s Senior Counsel for Budget and Finance, Paul Wilson, and State Budget Director Linda Luebbering sat down with Capitol reporters for an hour and a half, going over a 13-page document compiled by the governor’s office. The document breaks down what the state can expect to receive from the federal stimulus package. Money can come to the state from three categories.
The first category has been called the budget stabilization fund, intended to help states cope with rising Medicaid costs and keep states from cutting education funding during the economic downturn. Wilson and Luebbering say Missouri should receive $1.2 billion for Medicaid reimbursement. A total of $921 million will be made available for education in the current fiscal year, the next fiscal year and Fiscal Year 2011. Most of the education money, $753 million, can be used for overall educational expenses, including renovation and repair of school buildings. The remaining $168 million can be used for public safety, state run colleges and renovation of public school or college facilities.
A quarter of the money in the federal stimulus plan can be used to fund existing federal programs. In Missouri, that money can cover a wide variety of programs and services. The most money set aside in that category, $600 million, will be directed to the Missouri Department of Transportation. Other large expenditures in that category include $400 million set aside for food stamps, $225 million for special education, $145 million for Title I Education for the Disadvantaged, $140 million increase for recipients of Missouri Pell Grants and $125 million for weatherization.
Wilson reiterated a contention made by Governor Nixon that Missouri is well positioned to take advantage of the third category: competitive grants. Wilson said that Missouri could greatly increase its take of the federal money if it succeeds in securing competitive grants to pay for job training, education, environmental projects, energy research, health care, public safety and broadband among others.
The Administration has also announced a centralized Web site to receive suggestions on how best to spend the federal money and to explain how to apply for grants. The site is transform.mo.gov and it will serve as the online hub for Nixon’s Transform Missouri Initiative. The site will encourage both individuals and groups to submit suggestions. Once the federal government establishes procedures, the site will outline how to submit eligible proposals.
Governor Nixon has signed an executive order establishing the initiative to identify state programs that can benefit from the federal money and to develop a coordinated plan to use the money.