The way state government spends taxpayers’ money in the next fiscal year has been laid out. But financing for future years remains uncertain during a fragile and recovering economy.
Senate appropriations chairman Kurt Schaefer says state government is on financially-reduced but stable footing heading into a fiscal year starting July first. But in a few months Schaefer and other budget-making lawmakers will be starting work on a new budget that will be missing federal stimulus funds that have propped up state programs for a couple of years. He expects state income to continue slow growth but he expects demands on that limited income to increase.
Schaefer says federal funding mandates will keep coming—and Washington might increase them by pushing more of its expenses down to states as Congress cuts the federal budget.
But don’t expect the legislature to do anything to increase state revenues to meet those new needs. “With the economy being what it is…I don’t know if it’s appropriate to be discussing charging people more money to live in the state of Missouri…as opposed to finding says to that we can find efficiencies in state government,” he says.
Schaefer sees no interest by the legislature in raising money by increasing the nation’s lowest tobacco tax. He favors an increase but says it’s going to have to be although a citizens’ initiative.