Funding Our Priorities

This week, members of the Missouri Senate put their stamp of approval on a series of bills that make up the state’s operating budget for the 2023 fiscal year. Our state constitution doesn’t require lawmakers to pass a certain amount of bills or hold a specific number of committee hearings, but it does call on the Legislature to pass a balanced state operating budget that funds the programs and services provided by the state. Often times, it is said that a person’s spending habits reflect their priorities, and I believe the same can be said about our version of the state’s spending plan for 2023.

Once again, I am proud to report our budget fully funds the state’s K-12 education foundation formula. Outside of paying our state’s debts, the education of our children should be our No. 1 priority. By fully funding the education foundation formula, I believe we are sending a strong message that Missouri values education and the role it plays in preparing our students for success. Our proposed FY 2023 budget also provides an additional $214 million in school transportation funding. For rural schools, similar to many in the 26th Senatorial District, this increased funding will play an important role in ensuring our children safely make it to and from school.

The budget approved by senators also includes an additional $100 million to maintain our state’s low-volume roads. Commonly known as letter routes in rural areas, many of us drive these roads every day. Whether it is the farmer taking their crops to market or the mom dropping her kids off at school as she heads to work, these roads play a vital role in our communities, and it is imperative that we keep them maintained and in good working order. In addition to other spending items, the proposed budget increases funding for the expansion of broadband internet by more than $49 million. Throughout the course of the pandemic, we witnessed firsthand the importance of reliable, broadband internet. Whether it was working from home, helping our children with online classes or connecting with loved ones, each of us realized the vital role broadband internet plays in our lives. Broadband internet should no longer be viewed as a luxury — it’s a necessity. Through this increase in funding, I hope we can connect more of our rural communities with access to reliable internet.

Overall, our proposed spending plan for the state’s FY 2023 budget allocates important funding for our state’s public colleges and universities; decreases state debt; and provides critical care for our state’s most vulnerable populations. As I said earlier, our state’s budget represents our priorities. It fully funds the K-12 education foundation formula, continues to provide health care to those who need it and appropriates critical resources to the essential programs and services that are vital to our state. I am proud of the work accomplished by my colleagues, and I believe this budget ensures our government remains open, funded and able to serve the people of the Show-Me State.

It is an honor to serve our community in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns about state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at dave.schatz@senate.mo.gov — we are honored to serve you.

Read More