Today, Governor Eric Greitens announced $146.4 million of spending restrictions constitutionally required to balance Missouri's budget. Missouri's budget is suffering from reduced revenue due to poor economic growth. That revenue is being drained by special interest tax credits and the faster-than-projected growth in healthcare expenditures, driven in part by the national impact of Obamacare.
These restrictions are an initial step towards fiscal responsibility. Over the next 18 months, over $700 million in budget cuts will be necessary just to make the budget balance and retain Missouri's AAA credit rating.
Despite the dismal situation inherited from the previous administration, Governor Greitens reiterated his commitment to funding Missouri families' priorities like K-12 education and public safety. "Not a single penny will be taken out of K-12 classrooms," Greitens promised in a social media video accompanying the announcement.
The restrictions announced include no cuts to the Foundation Formula that funds K-12 classroom education. There were no cuts to programs essential to public safety, and all of the state's pension and health care obligations will also be honored. The restrictions were targeted, to the extent possible, at rolling back earmarks, new spending items, programs with no established track record of success, and services that are duplicated elsewhere in government.
"You elected me because I’ll always tell it like it is, and more hard choices lie ahead. But as Missourians, I believe that we must come together, tighten our belts, be smart and wise with our tax dollars, and work our way out of this hole by bringing more jobs with higher pay to the people of Missouri," said Governor Greitens
Greitens also reiterated that the answer to the dire budget situation is smaller government and an improved private-sector economy, "I do not believe the answer to unwise budgeting is to raise taxes on hardworking families who are struggling just to make it by. The answer is simple: government must become more efficient, and we must build a thriving economy with more jobs and higher pay."
Additional details on the spending restrictions are linked here. Governor Greitens will detail his plans to reduce government waste and grow the economy during his State of the State address tomorrow.
Governor Greitens Takes First Steps to Balance Missouri’s Unbalanced Budget
January 16, 2017