by Craig Stevenson, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Kids Win Missouri
As we ring in a new year of child well-being advocacy, the race to the end of the legislative session – May 13 at 6PM – is underway! With session kicking off in Jefferson City today, let’s take a sneak peak as we engage the adventure of unknown territory of the Missouri General Assembly for 2022.
It’s an election year, which means that the legislature often spends time on issues that are politically popular with each of the respective bases of the electorate. The impending retirement of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt set off a chain reaction of elected officials vying for higher office, likely opening at least two congressional seats.
Unfinished Business First
The General Assembly is expected to quickly work on legislation to redraw Missouri’s congressional district lines. Missouri is among the last states in the country to do this. Candidate filing, unless changed in the first few weeks, is set to begin on February 22 and ends on March 29.
Governor Parson will be proposing a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year (State Fiscal Year 2022) which the legislature is expected to urgently discuss. The supplemental budget includes a cost of living adjustment for state employees, funding authority for various programs who are receiving American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and the ability to fund the Medicaid program to cover the costs for the Expansion population, who began enrolling in October, for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Conventional wisdom is that while these two issues will take much of the public airspace, traditional early session work of committee vetting of bills will also continue.
Strong Budget Position
On December 10, Governor Parson and budget leaders agreed on that the state fiscal year 2023 budget is expected to grow by 2.1% The SFY 2023 budget begins July 1, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2023. They also agreed to revise the current fiscal year estimates to a 0.5% decrease to general revenue funds, accounting for an expected return to a single tax filing date in the fiscal year.
Overall, the revenue picture for Missouri remains very strong. Year-to-date general revenue collections are up $264 million (4.83%). Sales and use taxes are driving the growth, up $405 million (33.95%), while individual income taxes is down $171 million (-4.25%) compared to the previous fiscal year.
The State Treasurer’s cash-flow report for November 2021 shows Missouri with a general revenue fund balance of $2.5 billion. In November 2019 (pre-pandemic), this same report showed a balance of $431 million.
Children Policy Movement
When reading news coverage of children’s policies, it’s likely we will see movement relating to school choice, curriculum and instruction as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion, and child welfare.
Our coalition will be working hard to advance policies to ensure the state utilizes child care pandemic relief, ensures the Office of Childhood has appropriate statutory changes needed, work towards 12-month post-partum coverage for mothers, raise the floor age of juvenile certifications as adults, and more. Be sure to register for our weekly calls at 10AM on Friday for updates on these and other child-related legislative activities!
Child Advocacy Day
The Child Advocacy Day Committee is currently planning for festivities to take place in March, culminating in a day of action on March 22. With the still-evolving state of the pandemic, the group will continue to assess the situation and plan the safest, most impactful event possible. Save the Date for March 22 and look out for more information coming soon!