Four-hundred-thirty-five million dollars the legislature wanted to spend on state programs, services, and institutions has been slashed from the state budget. The state budget director is looking for something positive but not finding much.
Budget director Linda Luebbering says the most recent withholdings–sixty million dollars—are getting into the bone, and a lot of Missourians will be touched by them.
She can’t say these are the last budget cuts or withholdings. State income after the first quarter of the fiscal year could be a sign.
Luebbering says it all boils down to jobs. When more people have jobs, more people will be paying income taxes—and income taxes are what drives the funding for state programs and services. The trend line is not going the right way, yet, though. "The only indicators that are starting, perhaps, not to reduce so rapidly as in the past are some of the unemployment statistics and the people who are claiming unemployment checks…Those numbers are not getting worse as quickly as they were before," she says. Luebbering says her office has not seen the state’s economy turn around. But she and her staff have seen the economic decline slow.
The turnaround can’t come too soon for administrators of state program. MOREnet, a statewide research and education network worries if withholdings are a risk to the network. Revenue says customer service and investigations will be delayed. Agriculture sees a reduction in animal disease control monitoring and inspections.The agency that oversees maintenance and repair of thousands of state facilities says the cuts jeopardize the agency’s mission.
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