Budget Recap from Missouri Budget Project
As previously reported, the Legislature approved the fiscal year 2018 state budget the first week of May. However, funding for several services were hanging in the balance as we waited for lawmakers to approve HCB 3 – which they did. We’re including a brief summary of the major budget items that were adopted in the budget:
K-12 Education & Pre-K: Funding for the foundation formula which distributes state aid to local schools was increased by $48 million. The amount brings total financing for the formula to $3.39 billion. For the first time in many years, the level of funding in the formula will meet the required level.
Fully funding the foundation formula also triggers new funding for public preschool in Missouri! HB 1969, approved in 2014, included a provision that adds funding for preschool age children to the foundation formula. Specifically, the legislation allows schools to count children aged three-five, who are eligible for free and reduced lunch, in the calculation of the foundation formula. The amount is limited to 4 percent of the total number of students in the district (from pre-k through senior year) who are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This provides a significant and substantial new investment in preschool for Missouri kids.
Our partners at the Alliance for Childhood Education shared this summary of states that also use the K-12 funding formula to fund preschool.
Higher Education: Funding for Missouri’s 2 and 4-year public colleges was cut by 6.58% in the budget, which is likely to result in tuition increases for Missouri’s young adults.
Child Care: The budget included nearly a $3 million cut to child care assistance. The decrease consisted of federal funds and was based on a “lapse in spending”- meaning the state was not expected to spend the full amount it was provided in the current year on child care services. The lapse is connected with lower than expected costs for the transitional child care assistance program. Missouri provides full child care assistance for families with incomes up to 138% of poverty, and transitional assistance based on a sliding scale for those families until their earnings reach 215% of poverty. However, most other states allow families to access transitional assistance if their income falls within the eligibility guidelines regardless of whether or not they had previously received full child care assistance. Missouri does not, and has very few families who are eligible for transitional assistance as a result.
HCB 3/Circuit Breaker: With the passage of the fund sweep in HCB 3, both funding for vital services for seniors and people with disabilities (discussed above) and the circuit breaker property tax credit for the elderly and people with disabilities who rent their homes are protected for another year. Your calls and emails to lawmakers made a huge difference in protecting seniors and individuals with disabilities!