State Spending Increases Amid Budget Cut Talks

While state lawmakers fret about budget cuts again this legislative session, total spending in Missouri is likely to increase this fiscal year. What changed?

While lawmakers are looking over the governor's budget proposal and talking about budget cuts, total expenditures in Missouri are on the rise.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon released the budget proposal for fiscal 2013, starting July 1, during the State of the State speech delivered Tuesday.

The budget plan outlines $22.98 billion in total expenditures, down .96 percent from the amount appropriated by lawmakers for this fiscal year.

At this time last year, also amid budget cutting talks, total spending for this fiscal year was estimated to decrease by more than 1 percent.

The year-over-year spending reduction total shrank as time passed. But even as late as last month, the state was on track to reduce total spending this fiscal year by less than a percent.

The totals, however, were about to change.

As Nixon was delivering his hour-long speech, the totals for each fiscal year were not matching with the total expenditure and appropriation amounts previously released by the state budget office.

Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering confirmed to Missouri Journal that the total expenditures for fiscal 2011 and appropriations total for fiscal 2012 were restated during the budgeting process.

If everything is spent, total expenditures for this fiscal year will increase by 4.4 percent to $23.2 billion. Spending, however, dropped 1.92 percent to $22.2 billion in 2011 compared to 2010.

Medicaid appropriations, which moved money around without actually spending any funds, were taken out of the final numbers, Luebbering said, noting the new totals compare apples to apples.

It is too early in the budgeting process to know for sure if spending will be reduced next fiscal year. Total expenditures for 2012 will not be known for certain until after this fiscal year ends on June 30.

Plus, lawmakers have until May to finalize appropriations for fiscal 2013.

One thing is certain, however. Spending reductions are rare.

Total expenditures, year-over-year, have dropped only three times in the last 30 years.

From 1981 to 2011, total expenditures increased 468 percent from $3.9 billion to $22.2 billion.

By Brian R. Hookbrhook@missourijournal.com, (314) 482-7944

Hook is editor of Missouri Journal, which tracks the economy across the Show-Me State

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