OUR OPINION: Show-Me-State’s budget gets high marks

Gov. Mike Parson has signed one of the largest budgets in state history.

It was a long journey to get this budget drafted, vetted, passed and signed, but the $51.8 billion budget excels at maintaining responsible spending, as well as making generational investments in projects that could improve Missourians' lives now and potentially shaping the future of the Show-Me State.

With a substantial surplus, the urge might have been to spend too freely. But the governor and the Legislature largely resisted that urge.

"Missouri's economy is strong," Parson said after signing the budget. "Our revenues are up, businesses are growing and investing, and we maintain a historic revenue surplus, but we must not spend just for the sake of spending."

And because the state didn't "spend just for the sake of spending," it was able to make strategic investments that could have a big impact in Mid-Missouri.

Among the projects benefiting from the millions of state dollars flowing into Mid-Missouri are:

$2.8 billion to expand the number of highway lanes on Interstate 70 across the state.

An 8.7 percent pay raise for state employees.

$300 million for the Capital Commission's master plan, which calls for major renovations to the Capitol interior and replacement of the Senate parking garage. The budget also earmarks $50 million to fund maintenance throughout the Capitol Complex.

$30 million for construction at State Technical College, which is looking to expand a number of technical programs.

A 7 percent increase in core funding for State Tech, Lincoln University and the rest of the state's institutions of higher education.

$2.1 million in core funding so LU can join a new health insurance system and $30 million for campus construction of a health sciences and crisis center.

Creation of a $7.6 million fleet management office building and garage in Cole County and a $26.3 million consolidated warehouse complex, as well as additional state funding for the planned multi-agency state laboratory to be built on Chestnut Street in Jefferson City.

A $4 million one-time payment and a $3.5 million grant to help fund the expansion of the Special Learning Center as part of the state's efforts to invest in child care providers.

$3.4 million for new fire apparatus for the Jefferson City Memorial Airport.

Parson said of the budget: "Our administration has done the right thing -- the conservative thing -- to make strategic investments and maintain responsible spending."

We agree, governor, and believe the federal government could learn a lesson from the approach.

-- News Tribune

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