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Budget Moves Closer to Approval

This week in the Missouri Senate, we passed 14 appropriations bills for the various departments of state government. Thirteen of the spending bills passed by the Senate differ from the original proposals drafted by the House of Representatives, so those differences will need to be resolved and approved by the entire General Assembly by 6 p.m. on May 6. As it stands now, the 2023 budget will fully fund K-12 education programs in Missouri, provide nearly $150 million for road and bridge improvements and retire roughly $100 million of public debt. Among the changes recommended by the Senate is more than $200 million for school transportation expenses, freeing local resources to benefit classrooms, rather than going toward fuel and school bus maintenance.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have been involved in reviewing the original House budget bills and making recommendations for inclusion in Senate substitutes. That work continues next week, as the committee still has several more bills to consider, including legislation authorizing spending for capital improvement projects, maintenance and new facilities around the state. As the Senate budget committee takes up these bills, I’ll be advocating for a couple of major projects in our district.

One of those items is a $4.7 million appropriation for a “Convergent Technology Alliance Center” to be developed jointly by Missouri Western State University and North Central Missouri College. Funding for this project would come through the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in 2021. As the committee considers how best to allocate this unprecedented influx of federal money, I will also attempt to secure funding for the proposed Northland Center for Advanced Workforce development. This $60 million facility would house eight industry training academies and help prepare local high school students and adults for careers in manufacturing, health services, information technology, transportation and other fields.

In other legislative activity this week, my Senate Joint Resolution 39 was heard by the House Special Committee on Public Policy. This legislation would ask voters to grant the Legislature authority to limit property assessment increases. Reining in excessive property taxes hikes has been a priority of mine since I came to the Senate in 2019. I previously passed legislation to bring more accountability to the assessment process and my legislation to cap assessment hikes to 5% each year is moving forward. I hope to see that measure go to the governor’s desk in the next two weeks. My SJR 39, which requires voter approval, will allow this assessment cap to take effect.

It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.

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