(This story is written by Missourinet Capitol correspondent Waverly Colville)
The Missouri House Budget Committee has approved a spending blueprint for fiscal year 2019 that would increase funding for higher education, rural education and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
State Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, introduced an amendment that boosts MoDOT’s budget by $160 million for increased wages for its employees.
Butler tells the committee the increase is needed, because MoDOT spends a lot of money on employee turnover.
“It pays for itself because of the cost of turnover,” Butler says. “We are surely not paying our MoDOT employees adequately and we have such a high turnover that we’re actually spending more money training employees than we are keeping or retaining them.”
The Budget Committee’s plan also funds four University of Missouri cooperative programs at 60 percent.
UM System President Dr. Mun Choi testified before the Budget Committee last week, about the programs.
President Choi says the four programs will train 128 medical students, 60 dental students, 120 pharmacy students and 100 mechanical engineer students to work in areas that are underserved.
“These are all areas that will tremendously increase access to primary care, dental care and pharmacy care that’s needed throughout the state of Missouri, so we’re very excited about that,” President Choi says.
Other amendments would provide additional funding for rural education.
The blueprint approved by the House Budget Committee is expected to go to the House floor after the legislative spring break.
Lawmakers return to Jefferson City on March 26.
The Missouri Legislature is required to approve a balanced budget by the first week of May.