Governor Jay Nixon is preparing the budget plan that he will offer to the legislature next month.
First he and budget makers in the House and Senate will try to agree on a consensus revenue estimate – a prediction of how much revenue the state will have to work with, on which to base the proposed budget. Last year Nixon and the legislature didn’t agree, but he expects there will be agreement this year.
“I think everybody’s in the same zone, around 4.1-percent [growth] for next year,” said Nixon. “I anticipate that not being a problem this year.”
Nixon said two budget priorities will be K-12 and higher education. He already announced in September a plan to keep the state’s colleges and universities from increasing tuition.
“The deal that we constructed with the 2-year and the 4-year [institutions] to freeze tuition next year for $55.7-million in performance funding is important,” said Nixon. “It continues us on the path we’re on to make college more affordable and it’s one of the reasons why I think the economy is moving forward.”
Nixon said he also wants to build on the creation of 31 community mental health liaisons, who work with law enforcement to refer people with behavioral problems to programs in which they can receive help. He says those have resulted in more than 15-thousand such referrals for service.
“I think you’re going to see us talk about, what’s that mean? How can we – if folks are engaging with law enforcement and are a danger to themselves or others what do we do as a state to make sure we get those folks in meaningful treatment that lets them live better lives,” said Nixon. “I think in the mental health area you’re going to see a relatively significant push to make sure we’re following through on things we’ve started.”