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Senate Cuts Harmful to Vulnerable Missourians

Senate Cuts Harmful to Vulnerable Missourians
Lawmakers Should Reject Cuts in Conference

Last week, the Senate approved a FY 2016 budget that would cut funding for services to some of Missouri’s most vulnerable populations, such as foster children, seniors, and persons with developmental disabilities.

The Senate Budget Cuts Critical Services to Vulnerable Populations
• In total, the Senate budget cuts more than $183.8 million from the House-approved budget for the Departments of Health & Senior Services, Mental Health, and Social Services as a result of unspecified 4 percent and 6 percent cuts that would be applied to portions of those Department budgets respectively. Examples of the types of services that may be cut are listed on the next page.

• Although the overall General Revenue Operating Budget would increase compared to the current year by $91 million, services through the Departments of Health & Senior Services, Mental Health & Social Services would be reduced by $23 million compared to FY 2015.

Anticipated Increases to Revenue Would Allow a Higher Overall Budget
• Missouri’s tax collections are much stronger than anticipated for the current year, which could result in significantly more FY 2016 general revenue than legislators are budgeting.

• As a result of this growth, the state could end the current budget year with a balance, as well as see higher revenue collections than forecasted for FY 2016. General revenue tax collections as of March 31st are currently $123 million higher than forecast. If the higher revenue trend continues, Missouri could end the current fiscal year with $175 million more in revenue than expected.

Significant Uncertainty and Instability in Program Services Results from the Senate Budget
• With the exception of a few specific programs, the Senate provides a lump sum appropriation for all services provided by the Departments of Health & Senior Services, Mental Health and Social Services, and applies a percentage cut to that lump sum. As a result, it’s unclear how each specific program would be funded, lending considerable uncertainty to the stability of services. (Programs that were exempted from the lump-sum reductions include congregate and home delivered meals through the Area Agencies on Aging, Alzheimer’s funding, regional Autism projects, and dental benefits for adults in Medicaid who currently do not receive dental services.)

Missouri Could Lose Federal Matching Dollars as a Result of the Cuts
• Many of the services delivered by the departments are eligible for federal matching funds. State general revenue cuts mean fewer dollars eligible for federal match, increasing both the size and impact of these cuts to services.

The General Assembly Loses Oversight of State Spending
• By providing lump sum appropriations to be allocated by the executive branch, the General Assembly loses its oversight of state spending, one of the specific responsibilities of the legislative branch. It is particularly puzzling that the legislature would give up this responsibility after its push for Amendment 10, which increased legislative control over budget decisions.

The General Assembly should stick closely to the House versions of HB 10 and HB 11 and pass a final budget that does not include these cuts.

For a PDF of the full fact sheet with specific comparisons, click here.

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