When signing the record state operating budget into law, Gov. Mike Parson praised historic investments that provide "tremendous opportunities" for Missourians today and into the future.
"Informed by the needs of Missourians all across the state, we have once again passed a balanced and conservative budget that benefits every Missourian," the Republican governor said in a news release June 30.
"With record revenues, strong economic performance and significant sums of Missourians' federal tax dollars returning to our state, this session we met the moment and approved strategic investments that will serve generations of Missourians," he continued.
Missouri's operating budget for fiscal year 2023, which began July 1, totals $47.5 billion -- $12.5 billion of which comes from general revenue income. The finalized budget is more than half a billion less than what lawmakers passed as Parson's 32 line-item vetoes totaled nearly $644 million.
For the Capital City and surrounding area, the state budget provides several transformational opportunities for transportation, education and economic development.
Local project funding
More than $500 million in state funding will fuel a wide variety of construction projects throughout and around Jefferson City, from new education buildings to laboratories and hospitals.
The state's single largest local construction investment is $300 million for interior renovations to the Capitol building. The funds will be used to jumpstart a $535 million multi-year master plan that includes creating an annex under the south lawn, a new centralized visitor entrance and a new parking structure, as well as improvements to office spaces and heating and cooling throughout the Capitol building.
"As you're aware, the Band-aid approach that we see right now that we're using and have been using, it's not working," Dana Rademan Miller, chief clerk of the House, testified before lawmakers during session. "And we find ourselves doing project after project here -- there was a large HVAC project done this summer here in the basement -- and it's millions of dollars that we're spending, but we're not fixing the root cause. So this plan does that."
Another massive development for Jefferson City coming out of the state budget is a $183 million multi-agency health and crime lab campus, which will be built next to the existing State Public Health Lab across from the historic Missouri State Penitentiary.
Parson and agency leaders unveiled details of the laboratory June 30, praising it as a prime example of cross-agency collaboration.
The 260,000-square-foot facility will house researchers from the Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Conservation and Missouri Highway Patrol. It's expected to be complete in 2026.
Highway Patrol Superintendent Eric Olson said the crime lab will serve as a regional research facility to be used in conjunction with state and regional partners, as well as colleges and universities researching forensic technology.
Area institutions of higher education were appropriated construction funds in the state budget, in addition to a 5.4 percent increase in core funding.
Lincoln University is receiving $20 million from the state to fund construction of a $40 million Health Sciences and Crisis Center, so long as the university can produce the other half. The facility will be used to house Lincoln's life sciences and nursing programs, as well as the police academy and proposed Security Sciences Institute to offer certification and licensing in cybersecurity, emergency management, geospatial information services and criminal justice.
State funding would cover half of the 40,000-square-foot facility to be built in or near Elliff Hall, which currently houses the nursing department at 709 E. Dunklin St. University President John Moseley said the additional space will allow Lincoln to upgrade its labs, grow existing programs and implement new ones.
Lincoln also secured full land grant funding from the state for the first time ever. The $9.7 million will be used to match a federal grant that supports agricultural research and extension services.
State Technical College of Missouri, in Linn, is receiving a $20 million appropriation from the state to build a 60,000-square-foot lab near the existing Engineering Technology Center, a 30,000-square-foot lab in front of the Nilges Technology Center and an additional 90,000 square feet of renovation within current facilities. Like Lincoln's project, the state requires a 50-50 match from the institution.
State Tech President Shawn Strong said the investment is transformational because it allows the technical college to continue growing enrollment to more than 3,000 students. State Tech hit a record 2,000 students enrolled last fall.
Additional education-related expenses in the state budget include a fully funded K-12 formula and $21.8 million to partner with school districts to increase the baseline teacher pay to $38,000 per year.
Missouri lawmakers also appropriated $20 million for HVAC upgrades at state facilities; nearly $16 million for the Department of Mental Health to design, renovate and improve the Fulton State Hospital Biggs Building; $12.3 million to develop the Public Safety Broadband Network in Jefferson City to boost internet coverage and capacity in and around the Capitol Complex; and $14 million for improvements to Union Hotel, which houses the Amtrak waiting area that has been closed since 2019.
The Missouri Department of Transportation received $13.25 million to cover the costs of a second daily Amtrak River Runner train to make round trips across the state, creating a second daily stop in Jefferson City.
While community leaders celebrated those achievements, others were not so lucky.
Of the $644 million Parson vetoed in the budget, more than $80 million affects state building or operations in Jefferson City.
The governor vetoed $83 million for the construction of a new Highway Patrol Academy, which would have been used to serve law enforcement agencies throughout Missouri. The academy facility would have included an administrative building, dormitory, training facilities, indoor firing range and emergency vehicle operations course.
Parson killed funding for the project, citing projected costs higher than the appropriation and the desire to include it in a comprehensive state facility plan.
"While I am supportive of law enforcement officers and have made budget recommendations supporting law enforcement, first responders and emergency personnel in this budget and in previous budgets, this item cannot be approved as the cost of the project is significantly higher than the appropriated amount," Parson wrote in his veto letter.
Project estimates were $149 million and another $20 million is needed for site development, Parson continued. He said the property where construction was planned also has "legal encumbrances that would need to be negotiated and addressed."
Parson also struck down $500,000 to pay for three security staff for the House and three for the Senate. In his veto letter, he said the appropriation wasn't in his budget recommendations and the additional staff would duplicate work done by the Capitol Police, creating complications and the potential for a fragmented emergency response.
While most of the state's budget has been decided by lawmakers, there's potential for local governments to draw down additional funds for select projects.
Additional funding opportunities
Missouri's record operating budget was supplemented by $4.3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds, particularly from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The state has used a portion of those funds to create grant programs, in which local governments, organizations and businesses can apply for the federal dollars. A directory of grant programs is available through a website the state launched in May.
The grant programs touch a wide range of areas:
• There's $10 million available to help political subdivisions create inventories of lead service lines in water systems. Municipalities, governmental agencies, public water and sewer districts, and private utilities can apply for up to $200,000 by July 14.
• $125 million is available for wastewater infrastructure grants and drinking water infrastructure grants, and $150 million is set aside for stormwater infrastructure grants. Individual grants are capped at $5 million and the applicant eligibility and deadline are the same as for the lead line grants.
• The state has also appropriated $25 million in ARPA dollars for MoDOT to administer port authority grants. A share of those grants may flow to the Heartland Port Authority as it looks to secure funding sources for a river port in the Capital City.
• $10 million in grant funding was approved to help residential care and assisted living facilities combat financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds, administered on a rolling first-come, first served basis, can be used to pay for payroll, training and operational costs.
• Missouri's 57 area career centers, one of which is in Jefferson City, may also see improvements under a $20 million ARPA grant program. Funding applications are due Oct. 14 and require a 25 percent local match. Funds can be used to create high-demand programs, upgrade equipment and renovate or build facilities.
• State lawmakers budgeted $10 million each for four public safety grant programs and another $1 million for grants to county law enforcement and prosecutors in areas with a high percentage of alleged sexual crimes against children.
Additional state ARPA grant programs seek to support cell tower and broadband infrastructure construction, development of local tourism and the entertainment industry in Missouri, community revitalization and economic development. The state is expected to update information on those grants programs in coming weeks.