Governor Mike Parson has completed his review of legislation passed by the General Assembly and his job of signing and vetoing bills is now complete. The most notable of his actions are his decisions on the FY23 budget. The nearly $48 billion spending plan sent to the Governor by legislators, was left mostly intact, with Parson issuing 32 line-item vetoes totaling some $644 million.
The passage of the budget was hailed by both parties as a major success, as many priority items will be funded with the record amount of tax revenues in the state coffers. Projects receiving top billing in the budget include necessary maintenance on many college and university buildings across the state, as well as new construction on many campuses. Drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure will see major investments, along with a focus on broadband access statewide. The state’s Medicaid program will also see a boost in funding, as will funding for skilled care services for the elderly and disabled. In the area of K-12 education, there will be full funding of the transportation program and teachers across the state will see an increase in their compensation. The FY23 budget year began on July 1.
Other than the line item vetoes in the budget, the Governor issued vetoes on several policy related bills, most notably the tax rebate legislation approved by the General Assembly. That program called for a one-time tax rebate that would be available for some taxpayers based on income. Parson did not approve of the plan because he said many low-income Missourians and vulnerable populations would be entirely left out of the relief measure. Instead, the Governor proposed an across-the-board tax cut for all wage earners and said he would call a special session to address the idea. Parson also vetoed HB1720, which renewed several agricultural tax credits as well as enacting a handful of new ones. The renewal on the programs was approved by the legislature was for two years, which Parson sees as problematic and stated it needs to be for six years. In his explanation of the veto, he stated he would also call a special session to address the issue, since many agricultural related programs rely on the tax credits, and they have a far-reaching impact. No date has been set for the special session, but many believe it will run consecutive to the September 14 veto session.
The Missouri Department of Revenue reports that over 3,000 individuals have applied for refunds on the newly enacted gas tax. The Department began accepting claims on July 1 and must issue the refund within 45 days for properly submitted claims. If the claim is not paid within the specified timeframe, the Department is required to pay interest to the claimant.
Primary Election Day is August 2 and all will be watching to see the results of numerous Primary Election races, especially in the Missouri Senate, where numerous mainstream Republicans are being challenged by ultra-conservative Republicans. As we have mentioned in the past, should the far-right Republicans be successful, it will change the makeup of the Senate and have an impact on Senate leadership positions, as well as the Senate agenda for years to come.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City. We will continue to keep you updated on political happenings across the state as they happen.
Nikki Strong, Strong Consulting Group.