This week, the Missouri House of Representatives unveiled its version of the FY 2018 state budget, and Governor Eric Greitens announced a revision to his budget that would add back in $52 million.
The House version of the budget was identical to the Governor’s proposed budget, which cut higher education funding dramatically. Department of Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan presented the department’s proposed FY 2018 budget to the House Budget Committee on Tuesday. She also confirmed that if the House’s current budget proposal, the A+ program would be fully-funded for FY2018.
Only days later, the Governor proposed changes to the budget that would add back in $50 million that, according to the Missouri Supreme Court, the state can recoup from lost tobacco settlement money. The Governor proposed that $41 million be restored to home and community-based services, and that $11 million should go to K-12 school bus transportation. He did not propose that any of the funds go to higher education or community colleges.
“This settlement is good news,” Greitens said. “But it’s important to remember that they are a lucky break. Sound budgets are not built on lucky breaks. Our budget problems cannot be solved by stopgaps and short-term funding windfalls.”
Members of the legislature spoke with the media in advance of the Governor’s announcement.
“The governor may have a way he wants to go, we may have some ways we want to look at it,” Senate Budget Chairman Dan Brown told reporters. “The tobacco money, we still run the risk of a federal district judge tying that money up. So I would be slow to book that money until we know for sure we’re going to get it.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported that Brown warned against using the money for areas of the budget that require continual funding. He suggested spending half on one-time projects and the other half on higher education.
“It is one-time money,” House budget committee chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said. “If we put it back, we’re going to be faced with the same problem next year.”