Nixon’s ‘State of the State’ Tonight, Medicaid, Schools & Investments

NixonSpecialSessionJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)- When Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon outlines a budget on Monday at 7pm before a joint session of the legislature, he will be banking on federal Medicaid money to help bolster the state revenues available to spend on education and other government services.
Nixon’ proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year also is likely to propose more spending than in years past, a reflection of the state’s gradually improving tax collections after several lean years of cuts.
Here are a few things to watch for in Nixon’s budget plan:
Nixon already has said his budget will include a Medicaid expansion as allowed under President Barack Obama’s health care law that could cover an additional 259,000 people during the next fiscal year. That expansion could bring an additional $907 million of federal money to Missouri doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and other medical providers.
Nixon’s budget plan will assume that the recipients of that federal Medicaid money will pay an additional $15.5 million in Missouri income and sales taxes. His budget also will assume $31 million in savings stemming from the Medicaid expansion, because the federal money would decrease the amount the state must pay to cover some mental health services and programs for disabled residents and pregnant women.
Republican lawmakers generally have expressed opposition to the proposed Medicaid expansion and skepticism that an influx of federal money will result in a surge in state tax revenues. That could create an immediate budget conflict between Nixon and lawmakers.
“If the General Assembly decides that we don’t agree that the Medicaid expansion is prudent or we don’t agree that it creates the jobs or increased revenue that they say it will that means he’s going to spend money on things that we have to go in and remove” from the budget, said Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, a former House Budget Committee chairman who now serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Nixon already has said that he will seek more spending for early childhood education programs, which took a cut in the current budget. He also has expressed support for performance-based funding for higher education institutions and an expansion of the A-plus community college scholarship program to more high school graduates.
Although Nixon has not revealed the specific spending proposals, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education has given him a potential blueprint.
The board recommended a $25.5 million funding increase for public colleges and universities, about 3 percent more than they currently receive. The board’s plan calls for that money to be distributed to institutions only if they meet specific performance measures, such as student retention and graduation rates.
The higher education board also recommended a $3 million increase in A-plus scholarship funding, an $8 million increase in Bright Flight scholarships for students who score well on standardized tests and a $25 million funding increase for Access Missouri scholarships that are based both on financial need and academic merit.
Nixon also could use his State of the State address to lend support to a bond issuance for building projects.
Some lawmakers are working on a plan that could authorize around $1 billion of bonds to finance construction at college campuses, repairs at state buildings and perhaps even new road work. They contend the timing is right to take on more debt, citing low interest rates and the fact that Missouri recently made the final payment on a $600 million bond plan authorized by voters in 1982.

One Response

  1. Reblogged this on KC Education Enterprise.

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