Governor Nixon has signed the 13 bills that make up the $26-billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Nixon commended the legislature for sending him a balanced budget, on time.

Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon

“It’s not something we should take for granted. Just this year lawmakers in Florida and Washington adjourned without passing a budget at all,” said Nixon. “Not only did the legislature act in a timely fashion, they followed my budget outline in a couple of key areas.”

Key among those areas, said Nixon, was an $84-million increase in K-12 public schools over the current fiscal year’s budget and a $5-million increase in early childhood education, a $12-million increase in performance-based funding for public colleges and universities, and $13.9-million for services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

Nixon said it was “disappointing the legislature unnecessarily cut $90-million from services including health care for seniors, people with disabilities, and kids.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) had argued during the budget process in the legislature, that social services and welfare programs were seeing high rates of year-to-year growth that needed to be stemmed, if the state would ever be able to fully fund priorities like education.

Nixon said the state would adopt the managed care expansion that Schaefer led the effort to add to the budget. The plan would move hundreds of thousands of Missourians in 61 counties to that system from fee for service care. Under managed care, a private company manages health benefits for consumers.

Nixon said that transition would be transparent and be done responsibly.

“Under no circumstances will we implement this expansion at the expense of vulnerable Missourians like those with severe mental illness or include populations with special needs, like Missourians with disabilities and seniors, in managed care,” said Nixon.

Nixon did say he is frustrated that another budget process has gone by, and nearly another legislative session, without expansion of Medicaid eligibility in Missouri.

“We’re clearly seeing that the states that are moving forward are benefitting greatly from it and the states that don’t, their economies are dragging because once again, we’re sending $2-billion dollars to Washington that’s being used in other states,” said Nixon. “We’ll continue to push on that and would hope there would be a time at which I get to sign that measure.”