Semantics Stir State Spending Spin

Millions of dollars in funds can be restored to programs or departments and millions more can be cut from budgets, but total state spending is more likely to go up than down.

Add "restoring funding" and "budget cuts" to the list of phrases that obscure the state budget-making process underway in Jefferson City.

Millions of dollars in funds can be restored to programs or departments and millions more can be cut from budgets, but total spending by the state is more likely to go up than go down.

After being criticized from both sides of the political aisle for his budget proposal, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon submitted an amendment to his recommended budget "that restores $40 million in funding" for the state's public universities.

As Missouri Journal reported, the $40 million will come from a settlement by states' attorneys general with the nation's five largest mortgage banks regarding foreclosure practices.

Setting aside that the money being counted on to fund higher education is from a settlement, it is important to remember that the entire state budget-making process each year is based on estimates of projected revenue and expenditures.

Therefore, no actual money is being cut or restored until after the funds are appropriated by lawmakers in May, which then needs approval by the governor. Even after the new fiscal year starts in July, however, if projected estimates are not hit, spending levels may still need to change.

Lawmakers are currently in the process of deciding who will get what funding for fiscal 2013. Some deparments and programs may get less money than in the past, while others will likely get more.

With the extra $40 million included, the proposal for fiscal 2013 climbs from the $22.98 billion budget plan released during the State of the State speech to $23.02 billion. Therefore, the revised proposal now outlines a spending reduction of .78 percent, down from the original reduction of .96 percent.

At this time last year the budget proposal also called for a reduction. However, if all appropriations are spent this fiscal year, despite all the talk of budget cuts and funding restorations last year in the Missouri General Assembly, total expenditures will increase year-over-year by 4.4 percent.

Whatever politicians decide for next fiscal year, the final total is likely to be different than the original proposal. The safe bet, though, remains on total spending increasing year-over-year. And it does not matter whether a Democrat or Republican is governor, or on what party controls the state legislature.

In the last 30 years, total expenditures have dropped year-over-year only three times, while total state spending has increased 468 percent from $3.9 billion in 1981 to $22.2 billion in 2011.

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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Joe Merriman February 10, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Chrysler just added a 3rd shift and 1800 workers to the Belvidere Illinois plant impacting 14,400 more tax paying jobs that could have been added to the Chrysler Fenton plant had they not been torn down and sold for scrap. Chrysler could have reopened those plants again like they did in the 80's.
Danny Lloyd Danneman February 10, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Quit talking in circles. I want to know what is causing the increase in State expenditures. If there are an extreme number of people unemployed and there are an extreme number of political representatives in each State, it would appear to me that the primary reason for a consistent increase in State expenditures is due to the number of polititions wanting an increase in their salaries.
Matt Hay February 10, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Politician's salaries? They are a drop in the bucket. Do you know how much a State Legislator is paid? Around 30k, plus per diems. That said, do you know how much most of Jay Nixon's political appointees are paid? Usually well over 100k. You want to know what they do?: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-license-worker-among-charged-in-federal-id-case/article_958ae5af-7dd6-586b-b9d0-26b819cd1908.html Nixon provided this particular fee office to Mark Miles, who Nixon appointed as Missouri Historical Preservation Director, a $100k plus/yr job. The graft and corruption in this state are the reason. That coupled with state agencies like MoDOT spending millions on hairbrained scheme like the variable speed limits on 270, and now the "additional lane." It is the bureaucrats, political patronage, and and sheer corruption are driving up costs, and both the Republicans and Democrats are guilty of it. So yes, the politicians are the problem, their salaries are not. In fact, I would even argue that their salaries need to be raised to a sustainable level so that a) more people would be able to run for office, many cannot afford the pay cut, so only those with some alternative method of sustenance can even contemplate running for office and b) It would make them somewhat less influenced by meals and everything else they collect from lobbyists. They would not need to make their kids lobbyists to launder cash on their behalf like a certain someone from Farmington
Steve Farmer March 12, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Well put, Matt, you summed it up nicely. Another question I have: Why is a settlement for for questionable/predatory practices in foreclosures not going to those unfortunate citizens who were affected by those practices; and is instead being diverted to the state budget to fill shortcomings. It's never reduce spending, always about finding more revenue somewhere!


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