A struggling state budget will overshadow everything at the State Capitol in the legislative session that begins next month.
To say state revenue hasn’t come in as expected is to put it lightly. Revenue is down 7.7% from last year. Governor Nixon has cut a total of $634 million from the state budget approved by the legislature during the last legislative session. This year doesn’t promise to be much better.
House Speaker Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, sees another tough year ahead.
“I think we just have to be reasonable on the spending side just as people are at home, understanding that the income side is strained at all levels,” Richard tells the Missourinet. “Our spending side has to match our income side.”
Richard believes the legislature can navigate the rough water, but he worries about what might be coming downstream from Washington.
“There’s a number of things coming down to us from the fed (the federal government), whether it’s cap and trade, whether it’s a health care bill; we don’t know if we can afford it. The bills haven’t been written or passed,” Richard says. “There is a realization, at least on my part, that a health care bill sent to us may be completely unaffordable.”
State revenue has dropped from $2.93 billion in FY2009 to $2.71 billion this year. Budget writers from the Nixon Administration, the Senate and the House have been meeting in an attempt to forecast revenue projections for the next fiscal year. The budget is based on the consensus revenue estimate they agree upon.
Richard says the extremely tight state budget will limit what lawmakers can do in the session that begins in Jefferson City January 6th.
Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)