Shaping Policies. Creating Opportunities.


Policy Interns – Apply Now!

Join Our Team: The Missouri Budget Project (MBP) is now accepting applications for two State Policy Interns to contribute to our research on a range of substantive policy issues impacting low- and moderate-income Missourians. MBP seeks to expand the diversity of voices in state policy debates by identifying highly motivated candidates who have experience with communities that are traditionally underrepresented. Applications are due April 15 with anticipated start date of Summer 2022.

State Policy Interns are responsible for assisting in the production of objective, timely, and accessible research and analysis on state budget, tax, health and economic issues under the direction of the MBP Director of Research. The Interns will also engage with advocates, community groups, state department and/or legislative staff to help advance MBPs policy priorities.

State Policy Intern (Budget & Tax Focus): This internship focuses primarily on analysis and advocacy related to state budget and tax issues in Missouri. Interns will learn how to track Missouri’s budget process and will leave with a deeper understanding of Missouri’s tax structure as well as the programs funded through our tax & budget system. Interns applying for this position should have a background in demographic analysis, including analysis of secondary data from the Census Bureau and/or related sources.

State Policy Intern (Economic Justice Focus): This internship focuses primarily on economic justice and worker-centered priorities with a particular focus on applying a racial and ethnic equity lens to this work. Interns will contribute to the development of a shared policy agenda with input from grassroots and Black-led organizations across the state of Missouri. Interns applying for this position should have a background in economic analysis including analysis of secondary data from the Census Bureau, the BEA/DOL and/or related sources.

Position Overview: State Policy Internships will ideally begin in Summer 2022 and continue through Spring 2023 (~June 1-May 31) and are expected to contribute approximately 20 hours/week. MBP may consider consolidating positions into a one-year full-time fellowship for qualified candidates.

Candidates residing in all areas of Missouri are encouraged to apply.

Compensation: The positions will be compensated at a rate of $20 per hour. Reimbursement for travel and other related work expenses will be provided.

See the announcement below for more details, including position descriptions and application requirements.

Medicaid Expansion Will Help Missouri’s Uninsured Workers

More than 230,000 uninsured Missourians will gain health insurance through Medicaid expansion.

Thanks to our partners at Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, we know that 49 percent of those working without insurance are employed in the hospitality, retail, and health care and social assistance industries. These are cashiers, cooks, laborers and movers, maids and housekeeping staff who earn too much to qualify for current Medicaid coverage and too little to buy private insurance.

Many of them are essential workers that we have relied upon in some way during the pandemic. Now it’s our turn to help them get reliable, affordable health insurance so they can continue to do their jobs and care for their families. It’s time for Missouri to fully fund Medicaid expansion and extend health coverage to our state’s uninsured workers.

Where Do Missouri’s Uninsured Workers Live?

While uninsured working adults live in communities across the state, the 21 counties with the highest proportion of uninsured working adults are in rural parts of Missouri except for McDonald County. Hover over the map to check out the uninsured rate for working adults in your county.

Read the full profile of Missouri’s Low-Wage Uninsured Workers

MBP Reacts to 2021 State of the State

This afternoon, Governor Parson laid out his budget priorities for the state budget year that begins July 1, 2021. MBP will analyze the specifics of the proposal in the coming days, but we are pleased that in his address, Governor Parson:

  • Emphasized the need to level the playing field for bricks and mortar businesses by implementing the “Wayfair Fix” and “responsibly invest those revenues and provide new opportunities for our state.”
  • Recommended full funding of K-12 schools through the $3.56 billion foundation formula.
  • Requested funds for six new crisis stabilization centers to improve mental health access.

Through these and other investments in Missourians, we can make our state a better place to live, work, and play, and strengthen opportunity for future generations. We look forward to working with the legislature to help support these and other proposals – like a state earned income tax credit – that help achieve our mutual goals of improving the lives of all Missourians.

Expiring Federal Relief, Delayed Tax Deadline Drive Missouri General Revenue Growth: Outlook Less Rosy Than It Appears

At first glance, it seems like Missouri’s state general revenue has fared well through the pandemic. However, much of state revenue growth can be attributed to Missouri’s delayed tax deadline and earlier federal COVID relief that is now expiring. Assessed in the context of these dynamics, general revenue is not as healthy as it may initially appear.

Missouri Office of Administration recently reported that state general revenue has grown by an astounding 25 percent for the current budget year compared to the previous budget year. That’s an increase of $750 million in the first 4 months of the 2021 Fiscal Year (July 2020 – October 2020).[1] However, much of that increase results from Missouri’s decision to move the tax filing deadline at the start of the pandemic. Delaying the tax deadline from April to July effectively shifted the tax filing from state Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2021. As a result, as much as $700 million of the current year’s growth is really revenue from last year. Once removed from the total, revenue in the current year has only grown by $50 million compared to the same timeframe last year – a rate of 1.6 percent.

In addition, actions that the Congress took in response to COVID have temporarily boosted personal income in Missouri, which is also helping to stabilize revenue. These actions included stimulus payments, pandemic unemployment assistance and the PPP loans. As documented by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, total personal income in Missouri grew by over $20 billion in the second quarter of 2020.[2] This growth was well above the average growth rate, which hovers closer to $2 billion, and is likely largely attributable to the infusion of Congressional funds for Missourians. With the increased personal income being spent in Missouri’s economy, state tax revenue was stabilized. In other words, the actions Congress took are working as intended – they have provided significant help for individuals and stabilized the economy.

But nearly all of those actions are expiring at the end of this year.

  • Without Congressional action on an additional and robust COVID relief package, personal income will flatline and Missouri’s economy will tumble.
  • That would result in a steep decline in state general revenue – and certainly end in significant cuts to critical public services.
  • For each cut to the state budget, more jobs will be lost – teachers, social workers, public health workers and others will join the ranks of the unemployed, making our recovery even more difficult.

[1] See “State Releases October 2020 General Revenue Report”, November 9, 2020; retrieved on 12/2/20 from

[2] Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Total Personal Income in Missouri [MOOTOT], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, December 2, 2020.

COVID $$ to Unemployment Trust Fund?

Last week, Missouri legislators convened a Special Legislative Session to discuss allocation of the remainder of the Coronavirus Relief Fund in Missouri. While the Governor’s Supplemental Budget request and House Bill 14, the corresponding supplemental appropriations bill, both recommend funds for a wide variety of needed services, they also would allow federal COVID relief funds to be used to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund – at the same time that the Missouri Department of Labor decreased the unemployment tax assessment for businesses.

While some funds included in the Governor’s recommendation and HB 14 would be allocated to COVID mitigation, school nutrition, and other items (further detail below), the largest appropriation by far is $752 million that would be allocated to the Department of Public Safety – State Emergency Management Agency. From there, the funding would be distributed to COVID-related costs at the discretion of the Governor.

Many of the costs outlined are to be expected – for example, the direct costs of purchasing PPE, contact tracing, etc., as well as more indirect costs, such as the reimbursement of “state employee salaries for staff working on COVID-19.” However, the “budget book” describes that remaining funding could be used to “shore up the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund” (FY 2021 Supplemental Appropriations Recommendations House Bill 14, page 35). 

Although the Unemployment Trust Fund has been significantly depleted over the last seven months, in the normal course of operations, businesses would be assessed a slightly higher unemployment tax rate to rebuild the fund. However, the Missouri Department of Labor just announced that the unemployment tax assessment will be decreasing.

While COVID funding can be used to partially replenish unemployment trust funds, Congress never intended for COVID relief funds to be used for the purpose of lowering business assessments.

Missouri’s unemployment assessment is already quite low. The average rate of 1.24% is only applied to the first $11,500 of income per employee – which results in a business contribution of just $142.60 per year per employee to the trust fund. Beginning in 2021, the amount of income subject to the tax would be reduced, allowing businesses to decrease their contribution to the trust fund. The decrease will be very tiny for most businesses – with the new contribution of just $136.40 per employee per year – a savings of $6.

At the same time, Missourians who have been most impacted by COVID are continuing to suffer extreme hardship, including lasting unemployment. As of August, the state had 137,600 less jobs than it did a year ago (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Those who have been able to return to work are likely earning less than they did previously.  And, as of September 30th, 82,516 Missourians had exhausted their regular Unemployment Benefits (Missouri Department of Labor). Although these individuals are likely eligible for extended and special pandemic benefits in the near term, it is very likely that with the recent resurgence of COVID rates that Missouri unemployment levels could surge as well. As the crisis continues, Missourians who have already exhausted regular unemployment and others will exhaust all benefits.

Instead of using the COVID relief funds to replenish the unemployment trust fund, the funding would be better used if directed toward a stimulus payment to help Missourians who have been most directly impacted by unemployment due to COVID. That assistance would assure that funding would flow to families who are most in need and help stimulate local economies across the state.    

Missouri initially received $2.083 billion in federal relief funds through the CARES Act. $520.9 million was allocated to counties (this does not include additional funding that Jackson County and St. Louis County received directly from the U.S. Treasury. Some of the funding was allocated during the legislative session. However, the Missouri Office of Administration, Division of Budget and Planning has estimated that between $750 million – $1.5 billion remain (depending upon expenditures at the county level, some counties may need to return unspent funds to the State, which accounts for the range).

House Bill 14 is the vehicle for the supplemental budget and includes approximately $1.055 billion in spending authority for the remaining Coronavirus Relief Funding for Missouri. The most significant spending items include:

  • $140.9 million for testing, contact tracing and mitigation of COVID. These funds would be allocated to the Department of Public Health, for distribution to local public health agencies.
  • $75.6 million for school nutrition, in a special grant from the USDA.
  • $34 million for expansion of the Shared Work program through the Department of Labor.
  • $18.7 million additional authority from the federal Homeless Assistance CARES Act Grant.

You Did It!

With your help, Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion! After a decade, Missourians can finally reap the health and economic benefits of expansion.

Finally, around 230,000 more Missourians will have access to health care services. Moreover, expansion will create jobs, boost our economy, keep rural hospitals open, and create savings in our health system.

It was a long road, but the persistence of so many Missourians like you, Missouri has become the 38th state to expand Medicaid, making Missouri families and communities healthier.

We will continue our work to ensure that expansion is implemented according to the will of Missouri voters. We look forward to working with policymakers to carry forward what other states have learned as they have implemented expansion and improved health outcomes and state economies.

Congratulations, and onward to the implementation of expansion in 2021.

Many thanks,

Missouri Budget Project Team

Medicaid Expansion is Good for State Budgets

Recent research provides further evidence that Medicaid expansion can be implemented either cost-neutrally or while achieving cost savings for states.

Two recently published studies have examined the impact on state budgets in states that have expanded Medicaid.  Both conclude that Medicaid expansion did not result in forcing legislatures to cut priorities like education, public safety, and transportation, nor have they had to raise taxes. 

In a paper published by the Commonwealth Fund in May of this year, author Bryce Ward examined the experiences of states that had previously expanded Medicaid. Looking at the differences among programs and projections for future costs, Ward concluded:

“It is not necessary to cut other spending or raise revenue… to balance their budgets. Thus, the net cost of Medicaid expansion to states is different from the “sticker price.” In some cases, the net cost is negative.”         

A similar study of Michigan’s expansion showed similar findings:

“We find that Medicaid expansion in Michigan yields clear fiscal benefits for the state, in the form of savings on other non-Medicaid health programs and increases in revenue from provider taxes and broad-based sales and income taxes through at least 2021. These benefits exceed the state’s costs in every year.”

In the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, the authors of the Michigan study concluded:

“While these results are specific to Michigan’s budget and economy, our methods could in principle be applied in any state where policy makers seek rigorous evidence on the fiscal impact of Medicaid expansion.”

These studies are consistent with previous academic works that have looked at the experience of states across the nation that have expanded Medicaid and found similar results. 

In a 2017 analysis published in Health Affairs, Economists Benjamin D. Sommers and Jonathan Gruber examined data from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) and concluded:

“We found that the first two fiscal years of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion led to large increases in federal spending on Medicaid, but expansion states did not experience any significant increase in state-funded expenditures, and there is no evidence that expansion crowded out funding for other state priorities.”

A report done by the Health Management Associates, the consulting firm is the former employer of the current administrator for CMS, looked at data from Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio came to similar conclusions.  One of the “lessons learned” in the paper was:

“States considering Expansion now should take advantage of data from early expanders in the region to support more accurate projections on take-up, costs, etc., and to refute myths about Expansion taking funds away from education and other state priorities.”

These studies are consistent with analysis done previously by the Missouri Budget Project and others that looked at Missouri specific data and have come to similar conclusions.

We Stand With You

Across Missouri and our nation, brave individuals are coming together to take a stand against systemic racism and police brutality and to honor the memories and lives of, most recently, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee. Countless other lives have been lost before them, including Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Michael Brown.

We at the Missouri Budget Project stand with protesters in their demands for racial and social justice. Because Black Lives Matter.

While the current protests started after the recent killings, which come as Black communities are unduly bearing the burden of COVID-19, they are borne from centuries of systemic and institutionalized racism that has plagued our nation for centuries. It infects our health, economic, housing, criminal justice, and education systems, is embedded in our state budget priorities and tax structure, and is rooted in public policies at our national, state, and local levels.

In the months and years ahead, the Missouri Budget Project has a responsibility to work on these underlying policy issues, and we commit to doing so. MBP has previously undertaken steps internally to grow our understanding of systemic racism, but we’re still learning. We recognize that we must continue to learn, to change, and to serve. And to seek guidance from those who much earlier dedicated themselves to this journey as we work to identify how we can best, as an organization, support existing efforts.

But, we do know that creating lasting policy change, change that will provide the foundation for each and every Missourian to thrive, requires every organization, every leader and every individual to commit to working toward equity and inclusion. We stand with our colleagues, our friends and our neighbors to call out racism and to work toward policy solutions that will build a better tomorrow for every Missourian.

Senate Rushes to Approve Unfair & Irresponsible Tax Bill

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After only 30 minutes of debate, on Wednesday the Missouri Senate gave preliminary approval for a tax bill that will give big cuts to the wealthy and corporations while leaving our communities without the resources they need to prosper.

The Senate acted without an estimate of the bill’s fiscal impact. However, the Missouri Budget Project’s initial estimate is that the legislation will cost the state more than $500 million, and possibly as much as $800 million.

The Substitute for Senate Bill 617 (Eigel) would:

  • Cut the top individual and corporate income tax rates
  • Allow Missouri to enter the streamlined sales tax agreement, but cut individual income taxes further upon federal action on the issue
  • Phase out the state deduction for federal taxes paid
  • Increase gas taxes
  • Establish a nonrefundable state Earned Income Tax Credit

Low- and middle-income Missourians already pay a higher share of their income in state and local taxes than their wealthier counterparts, and SB 617 would further this inequity.

Missouri’s elite would get most of the bill’s benefits, while leaving the middle class to foot the bill.

Kansas has demonstrated the results of similar cuts, and the triggers included in Senate Bill 617 will do little to protect the Show-Me State from calamitous effects similar to what Kansas saw after its own tax debacle. In fact, Missouri already invests less in its families than Kansas did, even after its tax cut