- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The cost of funding Missouri’s state employee pensions will increase nearly $50 million in the next fiscal year as investment losses and lower earnings expectations push taxpayer contributions to the highest share of state payroll in the program’s history.

Pensions will need to be covered by $28.6 million in general revenue, the Columbia Daily Tribune (https://bit.ly/2h037IP ) reported. That could deepen proposed cuts in other programs and further hurt a state budget suffering from feeble revenue growth and increasing demands from programs with mandatory costs.

House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican, wants Gov. Jay Nixon to increase the current $152 million in general revenue withholdings to balance the budget before Gov.-elect Eric Greitens takes office Jan. 9.

“If Nixon wants to leave the state in a better condition than when he found it, he should act now,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said legislative budget staff will meet with administration analysts this week.

The state revenue report for the fiscal year’s first five months showed a general revenue growth of 2.6 percent, but the budget lawmakers passed called for growth of 4.1 percent.

In the year ending June 30, the retirement system covered almost 113,400 current and past state employees and paid $783.4 million in benefits.

The pension fund contribution “is certainly a request we are going to take very seriously,” state budget director Dan Haug said. “Is it a must fund? We are still looking into that.”


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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