Missouri lawmakers anticipate challenges in 2024 after record-breaking budget

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The state of Missouri is expecting a decline in general revenue in 2024 following a record-setting budget approved earlier this year.

The projections leave some lawmakers concerned about the state’s future.

It’s a constitutional requirement for the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget by May.

In the House, budget discussions have already started, something that normally doesn’t happen until January. Over in the Senate, the appropriations chair is expecting a constricted budget compared to years past.

“We don’t have the billions upon billions of dollars that the federal government had been shoveling out to states in the last several years,” said Missouri State Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield). “A lot of those one-time expenses you won’t see reoccurring.”

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Earlier this year, Gov. Mike Parson signed off on the largest budget in state history, which included nearly $3 billion to expand Interstate 70 to three lanes across the state.

“This year, it looks like revenues are maybe going to shrink, if not barely grow,” said Missouri State Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis). “We’re going to be in trouble, especially as these tax cuts are taking effect, trying to figure out how to pay the bills.”

Over the past few years, lawmakers have approved income tax cuts, and counties can now freeze property taxes for seniors. These cuts are causing concern for some.

“I’d imagine that this year is going to be the last year where we’re doing more projects and expanding,” said Missouri Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo (D-Kansas City). “I think the year after, you’re probably in a position where there’s going to be a lot of cuts.”

But House Speaker Dean Plocher (R-Des Peres) says he plans to discuss the future of personal property taxes in the upcoming session.

“I argue if you can put the taxes back into the taxpayer’s pocket, they are going to spend the money,” said Plocher. “They are going to be able to afford those necessary items, food, shelter, cars, things like that, that just go back into the economy and employ more Missourians.”

Across the building in the Senate, appropriations chair Lincoln Hough says the state needs that to happen.

“I know a lot of people say we need to do more, we need to cut more, and I would just caution folks that as we move forward,” said Hough. “The people of this state also expect some amount of service, and they expect their roads to be taken care of, and if you cut everything down to nothing, you’ll end up with nothing.”

While budget talks normally don’t underway until lawmakers begin the new legislative session after the new year, the House is getting a jump start on the process.

“So with a $50 billion budget, I thought there would be nothing wrong with bringing the budget committees in early, the subcommittees, to really study Missouri’s budget,” said Plocher. “Without the influx of federal money coming in, I think we really need to be attentive to how we are spending our hard-earned tax dollars.”

But without all of that information, some say it’s hard to put a spending plan together.

“We’re supposed to have hearings with all the departments and the governor’s staff to go over the recommendations and the department request,” said Merideth. “That’s essentially duplicative of these hearings. I hope we still do that because those are necessary, but I think that’s what he’s trying to avoid.”

In recent years, it’s been a sprint to the finish to get the budget done on time. Gov. Parson will outline his budget proposals during the annual State of the State address next month.


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