- Associated Press - Monday, May 12, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - In a story May 11 about the Missouri budget, The Associated Press, relying on information from the Senate Appropriations Committee, erroneously reported the number of “new budget items” there are in the 2014 budget. There are 338, not 252.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Missouri budget spends more despite flat revenues

Analysis: Missouri lawmakers opt for spending increases despite recently slumping revenues


An AP News Analysis

By DAVID A. LIEB

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri tax revenues have been falling in recent months. Yet spending is on the rise in the Missouri Legislature.

The 2015 budget, which won final legislative approval this past week, includes hundreds of spending increases for everything from schools to prisons. There’s new money for iPads, heart defibrillators, buildings and the eradication of pesky fish.

Missouri’s next budget is more than 6 percent larger than its current budget. It includes both more money for existing programs and for new initiatives.

This, from a Republican-led Legislature that has generally denounced the growth of government, and at a time when revenues have been falling short of projections. Yet legislative leaders remain outwardly confident that everything will work out.

“We put together a budget that we felt was accurate with the revenue estimates we had at the time, and we still believe that will come true,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, a Republican from Kirkwood.

The reasons for Missouri’s spending surge date back to last summer, when Missouri ended the 2013 fiscal year with a surprising 10 percent growth in state revenues. That meant the state started the 2014 budget with more money than expected in the bank, which fueled discussions of how to use it.

Lawmakers then met with economists and members of Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration in December - as they do each year - as the first step in deciding how much money to expect for the 2015 budget. But unlike most years, there was no agreement.

Legislators projected that the state would end the current fiscal year in June with 2 percent growth and see an additional 4.8 percent rise in revenues during the annual budget year that starts July 1. Legislative leaders said they were being realistic. Nixon said he was more optimistic. The governor forecast revenue growth of 2.8 percent this year and an additional 5.2 percent growth for the 2015 budget.

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