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Missouri government departments empowered through budget appropriations

by Ryan Pivoney | July 18, 2021 at 5:10 a.m. | Updated July 18, 2021 at 11:14 a.m.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs the fiscal year 2022 state budget on June 30. The new fiscal year began July 1. (Courtesy of the governor's office)

Not all state government budgets are created equal.

Many times, departmental requests go unfunded or underfunded; but sometimes, particularly when the state's revenue is looking up, departments are equipped with the resources to shape statewide trajectories or touch the lives of Missourians directly.

Missouri's fiscal year 2022 budget went into effect July 1. In it, the state's 16 executive branch departments secured funding for a medley of priority initiatives, programs, and projects that advance their missions and strengthen the public service they provide.

Some departments are routinely well-funded, like the state government's managerial arm that is the Office of Administration, while others, like the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, have experienced dramatic ups and downs in financial support over the past few years.

Ranging from additional pay for Missouri Department of Corrections staff to more funding for wild hog eradication efforts in southern Missouri, this year's state budget finances some major accomplishments for state departments.

The state's budgeting process is long and often turbulent.

Departments submit requests to the Office of Administration's Office of Budget & Planning and the governor by Oct. 1. The governor then proposes a budget by mid-January along with the State of the State address.

From January through April, a state budget is discussed, argued, amended, and finally passed by the Missouri House and Senate. Budget bills then go to a conference committee to work out any differences between House and Senate versions, then must be approved by the full House and Senate before moving on to the governor.

The governor has until July 1, the start of a new fiscal year, to act on the budget with line-item vetoes, a veto or a signature to pass it.

The process came down to the wire this year as Gov. Mike Parson threatened to withhold funding from various areas unless the General Assembly passed a renewal of Medicaid funding in a special session, which it did on the final day.

Funding comparisons for this year may also be skewed, some departments reported, because of the incorporation of federal COVID-19 relief dollars that have flooded some parts of state government.

Here are some of the biggest wins departments are celebrating with the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Office of Administration

Commissioner: Sarah Steelman

Workforce: 1,111 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $533,437,664

FY 2022 budget: $1,018,912,468

Percent change in budget: +91%

Budgetary wins:

Commissioner Sarah Steelman said the Office of Administration's biggest budgetary accomplishment this fiscal year was securing funds to replace its decades-old digital accounting system. SAM II, the state's integrated financial, HR and payroll system used in every state department, is in the preliminary stages of being replaced. The new system will take four to five years to fully implement and requires 43 additional staff and about $20 million in funding this cycle. Steelman said moving to a new subscription-based system would improve efficiency throughout state government and ease reliance on the few IT employees who can operate and manually update SAM II.

State Budget Director Dan Haug said the Office of Administration always has a list of identified needs to work toward resolving, from maintenance of state facilities to new IT systems, but he's generally satisfied with the fiscal year 2022 budget.

Department of Agriculture

Director: Chris Chinn

Workforce: 469 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $59,064,456

FY 2022 budget: $62,407,302

Percent change in budget: +5.7%

Budgetary wins:

Christi Miller, communications director for the Department of Agriculture, said the top priorities for this budget were to bring in additional funding for state meat and poultry inspection services and revised pesticide certification applicator training. There has been an increase in the number of state inspected meat and poultry processing locations serving communities around the state since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller said. The state is currently out of compliance with Environmental Protection Agency regulations for pesticide certification applicator training, so additional funding will be used to provide new and improved content to certified pesticide applicators.

"These top priorities, along with continued funding for all other programs, will allow the department to continue to meet its mission of promoting agriculture, serving farmers and ranchers, and protecting consumers," Miller said.

Department of Conservation

Director: Sara Parker Pauley

Workforce: 1,791 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $277,363,463

FY 2022 budget: $305,343,796

Percent change in budget: +10.1%

Budgetary wins:

Aaron Jeffries, deputy director for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the department's wild hog eradication efforts in southern Missouri will greatly benefit from the $1.7 million in funding it received this year. MDC doesn't receive money through the state's general revenue fund. Instead, fish, forest and wildlife management is funded through the Conservation Commission Fund. The Conservation Department is working with local, state and federal partners to eradicate feral hog populations that are destroying crops, damaging other wildlife and spreading disease. Nationally, feral hogs have caused more than $2 billion in economic losses to crops. So far this year, the department has tracked and killed about 7,000 feral hogs and removed populations from millions of acres in the region, including entire watersheds. The additional funding will go toward staffing, vehicles, trap construction and additional equipment.

Department of Corrections

Director: Anne L. Precythe

Workforce: 8,302 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $803,935,387

FY 2022 budget: $823,985,473

Percent change in budget: +2.5%

Budgetary wins:

Trevor Foley, budget and finance director for the Department of Corrections, said the biggest budgetary wins for Missouri's prison systems include significant salary increases for correction officers and cooks, and fully funding the county reimbursement program. The department received an additional $21.5 million for staff recruitment and retention efforts this year. The hope, Foley said, is the additional pay will make starting wages more competitive and attract more workers to the department that is facing severe shortages.

The state has also fully funded the department's program for reimbursing counties for the cost of housing inmates who eventually go to state prisons. In previous years, Foley said, the department hasn't had enough money in the program to pay back all county requests. He said the Legislature and governor have provided sufficient funding with $58 million to pay off previous requests and meet needs this year.

Foley said the department's most critical needs were fully addressed in the budget this year, but additional funding could always be used for programming, facilities and staff salaries.

Department of Economic Development

Director: Rob Dixon

Workforce: 159 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $269,433,183

FY 2022 budget: $732,241,197

Percent change in budget: +171.8%

Budgetary wins:

Ashton Kever, communications director for the Strategy and Performance Division of the Department of Economic Development, said the department will continue developing economic and workforce programming throughout the state with the funding it received this year. The department will continue providing aid through rental and housing assistance programs for those severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kever said. Those programs will directly benefit from increased federal funding in the budget this year.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Commissioner: Margie Vandeven

Workforce: 1,772 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $8,530,338,209

FY 2022 budget: $7,485,023,088

Percent change in budget: -12.3%

Budgetary wins:

Kari Monsees, deputy commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the consolidation of state childhood programs into the Office of Childhood under DESE has been the single biggest impact on the department. Resources, personnel and programs from the Department of Health and Senior Services and Department of Social Services are shifting to DESE on Aug. 28, but Monsees said a lot of the transition work is already reflected in the budget. The state invested $252.7 million and 121 staff to the new Office of Childhood. He said the consolidation should allow the state to provide more effective and efficient services, reducing any overlap or gaps that existed previously as services were spread across the three departments.

In addition to the reorganization of the Office of Childhood, the department considers COVID-19 relief funds for school districts, $8.5 million to fully fund the foundation formula and a $50 million teacher recruitment and retention grant program as major accomplishments, Monsees said.

The department's budget requests were well received by the governor and Legislature, Monsees said, but he believes access to broadband and additional pandemic support to schools will be major initiatives in the near future. He said the department has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Education to get access to $2 billion in remaining federal relief dollars.

The FY 2021 budget contains the federal COVID-19 money the department received; it is in the process of applying for similar funding for this budget cycle, but it hasn't been awarded yet and is not reflected in the 2022 budget.

Department of Health and Senior Services

Acting Director: Robert Knodell

Workforce: 1,755 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $1,750,616,225

FY 2022 budget: $ 2,350,315,291

Percent change in budget: +34.3%

Budgetary wins:

Adam Crumbliss, director of the Division of Community & Public Health, said there has been about a 60-70 percent influx of additional funding going to the state's public health and COVID-19 response efforts. Crumbliss said the state is using the funds to make long-term and short-term impacts, like investing in more modernized systems and combating the pandemic. This investment has contributed to a tighter coordination of the health care delivery systems, which he said also helps to reduce visits to emergency rooms and hospitals.

"I think there's actually some very big picture wins that are out there that the dollars and cents don't necessarily tell the story of quite yet," Crumbliss said.

Transferring data between hospitals and the state's public health systems is another project getting funds, he said, because it will allow Missouri to more quickly identify trends and outbreaks.

Crumbliss said the department is looking at how best to realign resources to be more efficient. While additional funding needs aren't yet identified, he said more may come up in the future.

Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development

Commissioner: Zora Mulligan

Workforce: 410 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $1,628,509,658

FY 2022 budget: $1,414,318,042

Percent change in budget: -13.2%

Budgetary wins:

Higher Education Commissioner Mulligan said the $20.2 million increase in core funding for colleges and universities is a major win for the department, as is the $159 million in one-time appropriations for higher education institutions. Mulligan said the additional funding will be used to advance the mission of a more educated workforce in Missouri by providing more opportunities within communities around the state. Some of the one-time funding - about $32 million - is administered through the MO Excels program, a competitive process among higher education institutions in which the state awards funding based on the merit of proposals. The one-time funding will go to college and university capital projects, deferred maintenance and expanding specific programs, such as Lincoln University's nursing and police academy programs. She said the state also appropriated an additional $835,000 to expand the ACT Work Keys program for students in career and technical education programs throughout Missouri.

Mulligan said the state still has room to grow when it comes to restoring higher education core funding to amounts last seen in 2010. She said restoring that funding will be an ongoing mission for the department.

Department of Commerce and Insurance

Director: Chlora Lindley-Myers

Workforce: 769 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $65,531,018

FY 2022 budget: $66,070,566

Percent change in budget: +0.8%

Budgetary wins:

Lori Croy, director of communications for the Department of Commerce & Insurance, said the fiscal year 2022 budget was straightforward with no new major programs or initiatives being funded. Croy said the department is well equipped to perform its statutory and regulatory duties throughout the new fiscal year.

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Director: Anna Hui

Workforce: 800 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $240,899,318

FY 2022 budget: $298,462,638

Percent change in budget: +23.9%

Budgetary wins:

Nick Omland, special projects coordinator for the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said unemployment claims and calls to the department have surged with the COVID-19 pandemic. The department's Division of Employment Security rolled out a call scheduler and virtual assistant to address the rise in call volumes. Omland said the state has appropriated an additional $13 million in federal funds for the department to continue these efforts and improve the state's unemployment system moving forward.

Department of Mental Health

Director: Mark Stringer

Workforce: 7,176 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $2,461,527,889

FY 2022 budget: $2,784,081,081

Percent change in budget: +13.1%

Budgetary wins:

DMH Deputy Director Valerie Huhn said the biggest ticket item the fiscal year 2022 budget delivered was $156 million in funding to support developmental disabilities' provider rate standardization. The additional funding was originally planned to be incrementally added over three years, but Gov. Mike Parson approved full funding early in the process and it was supported by the General Assembly. Huhn said the bulk of those dollars will go to paying higher salaries for direct support professionals who help individuals with developmental disabilities bathe, eat or take medications daily. The state's turnover rate for this position is higher than the national average.

"It allows us to give a pretty big pay increase to some very important people in the state of Missouri who are supporting some very vulnerable individuals, so we're very, very excited about that," Huhn said.

Additional budgetary wins for the department include crisis stabilization centers, additional community mental health liaisons, expanding certified community behavioral health organizations and more support for StationMD.

Department of Natural Resources

Acting Director: Dru Buntin

Workforce: 1,697 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $626,635,671

FY 2022 budget: $619,720,399

Percent change in budget: -1.1%

Budgetary wins:

Mike Sutherland, director of the Division of State Parks at the Department of Natural Resources, said one of the largest initiatives this year is funding 28 construction projects across 22 state park facilities. The estimated $68 million in projects are mostly centered around improving campground amenities and developing more lodging cabins, with just one project designed to provide electricity to a cave. All the projects are revenue-producing, Sutherland said, so the plan is for the revenue they generate to be used to pay back $60 million in revenue bonds the state is issuing to cover the cost. The whole process will take about 20 years to pay off, he said.

Sutherland said the department has heard for several years that campgrounds need to be upgraded to accommodate visitor expectations. Some improvements include better electric supply to handle large RVs and the addition of sewer and water hookups to campgrounds.

Department of Public Safety

Director: Sandy Karsten

Workforce: 5,120 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $2,035,197,834

FY 2022 budget: $963,008,776

Percent change in budget: -52.7%

Budgetary wins:

Mike O'Connell, communication director for the Department of Public Safety, said the key win for the department was securing 11 additional investigators for the Missouri Highway Patrol. O'Connell said the criminal investigators will assist in homicide, death, officer-involved shootings and the use of force, human trafficking, child exploitation, assaults, and drug-trafficking investigations.

Capt. John Hotz, director of the Highway Patrol's Public Information and Education Division, said the additional investigators are needed because of a rise in the number of officer involved shooting cases the patrol is asked to investigate. Troop A, for example, conducted 14 OIS investigations in the first eight months of 2020, which is the same number it conducted in the previous three years combined. With more investigators, Hotz said, more time and energy can be spent on investigations. The new investigators will be hired from within the Highway Patrol and additional troopers will be hired as replacements.

Department of Revenue

Director: Ken Zellers

Workforce: 1,260 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $512,875,548

FY 2022 budget: $512,145,844

Percent change in budget: -0.1%

Budgetary wins:

State Budget Director Dan Haug said the Department of Revenue and Office of Administration have been working together to develop and implement a new motor vehicle system to make it easier for Missourians to obtain license plates for their cars. Haug said the $27 million project will soon allow new vehicle owners to get plates when buying from a car dealership instead of being required to go to a state fee office.

Department of Social Services

Acting Director: Jennifer Tidball

Workforce: 6,548 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $10,633,983,569

FY 2022 budget: $10,602,325,922

Percent change in budget: -0.3%

Budgetary wins:

Patrick Luebbering, chief financial officer for the Department of Social Services, said the additional funding for adoption programs to expand and ensure children are in safe, permanent placements was important this year. Luebbering said funding will directly benefit the department's mission of investing in children, families and their future. The department also secured rate increases for foster parents around the state, including a clothing allowance increase and adoption subsidy increases.

One hundred four new staff and $5.3 million were appropriated to the department's division of youth services to accommodate the age raise in which children can be committed to the division instead of the Department of Corrections. Luebbering said the funding will be used to expand the department's capability for helping those children.

Luebbering said the department is currently working to identify needs for next year's budget, but nothing is solidified yet.

Department of Transportation

Director: Patrick McKenna

Workforce: 5,502 full-time employees

FY 2021 budget: $3,061,774,737

FY 2022 budget: $3,141,501,775

Percent change in budget: +2.6%

Budgetary wins:

Signed into law last week, an increase in the state's motor fuel tax was the Department of Transportation's biggest budgetary win, MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said. The tax will increase by 2.5 cents per gallon in October, and 2.5 cents per gallon each year until 2025 for a total of 12.5 cents per gallon. McKenna said the additional tax was long overdue as the department hasn't seen a change in its core funding in 25 years, despite maintaining the seventh largest transportation network in the country. He said costs have increased beyond what the current tax provides, meaning the department has less purchasing power and a growing list of unfunded needs. MoDOT outlines how it could spend an additional $8 billion-$10 billion in identified work in its Citizen's Guide to Transportation Funding, and McKenna said the gas tax will provide funding for significant progress on roadway and bridge projects.

In the future, McKenna said, the department may look to find additional funding to increase staff salaries, which are below market rates and have caused many employees to leave the department.

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