Missouri’s incoming House Budget Committee Chairman thinks more restrictions will have to be made on state spending.
After outgoing Governor Jay Nixon withheld about $200 million over several months, Republican Representative Scott Fitzpatrick contends there’ll need to be an additional $150 million sliced from state services and departments.
And he says they won’t come without pain. “It’s to the point now where it doesn’t matter where you restrict” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s going to be a difficult decision. And there aren’t very many easy places to go.”
The state’s total budget is $27 billion, with about $10 billion of which Fitzpatrick says lawmakers allocate to various departments and agencies.
Spending restrictions made by Nixon have came after state revenues have failed to cover the cost of expenses. Earlier this month, Nixon announced $51 million in restrictions, a move he made within his last 35 days in office. That brought his total to $201 million for the fiscal year after previous restrictions in July and September and following about $9 million he restored.
Fitzpatrick says the upcoming restrictions could disrupt operations at some departments. “You’re going to be digging into pretty much core funding that these departments and the folks that they deal with have had in previous years, as opposed to just eliminating the increases and things like that. It’s going to be uncomfortable, that’s for sure.”
He adds the spending restrictions ahead will be more difficult because they’ll come in the middle of the fiscal year when departments have already spent a good portion of their budgets. “It’s easier at the beginning of the year(July), because at the beginning of the year, not very much money has been spent” said Fitzpatrick. “And so there might be some places you would go that you couldn’t go now because that money has already been expended.”
Like most other states, Missouri is bound by its constitution to balance its budget. The state constitution also calls for the governor to decide how spending reductions will be made. With Democrat Nixon leaving office, Fitzpatrick will be meeting with Governor-elect Eric Greitens, a fellow Republican, to discuss the future restrictions which he says will be needed to keep the state from avoiding a deficit.
He said that meeting will likely take place before Christmas weekend.