State Budget Shortfall
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State Budget Shortfall

Date: December 2, 2008
By: Juana Summers
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri now has a projected $342 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, a number that could curb the spending initiatives proposed by Missouri's governor elect. 

Along with Tuesday's announcement that the state's economy is facing severe money troubles, the budget adviser for Governor-elect Jay Nixon gave a grave warning for the state's future.

The budget adviser for Governor-elect Jay Nixon, former state Sen. Wayne Goode, said that the state faces a budget crisis "like none we have ever seen in the past."

Goode, who served as chair of both the House and Senate Appropriations committees during his decades in the state legislature, gave a dire warning about the state's economic picture.  In 2005, when Goode retired from Missouri's General Assembly, he was the senior minority leader of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

He likened the national economic picture to the Great Depression of the early twentieth century, a forecast that could affect the state's financial future.

This shortfall is a departure from just six months ago, when the state had an anticipated surplus of $281 million.  Since May, the state's revenues have declined, resulting in a $623 million general revenue decrease.

Goode's comments to reporters came on the same day Missouri's Office of Administration reported that tax collections had fallen 3.9 percent for the past five months of the current fiscal year compared to last year.

Nixon will take office on Jan. 12, and his transition team has already been working with outgoing Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt's office to prepare for the switch in the state's top elected official.  During the conference call, Goode said Nixon's office will unveil a series of proposals to limit the state's spending in light of the budget concerns.  Goode did not specify which spending areas would be limited and which would be preserved.

Goode said one reason for the state's shortfall is continually declining employment as well as a loss of confidence by consumers and businesses in the state's economy.

The St. Louis County Democrat also said that because the national recession is so unpredictable, it's difficult to maintain a consistent revenue estimate for the state.  But Goode suggested there could be an impact on state spending during the current fiscal year. Missouri's 2009 fiscal year started in July 2008 and runs until June 2009.

"We're all aware that we have to operate from a balanced budget standpoint," Goode said. "I think you can assume that there will have to be some adjustment of expenditures in the current year's budget."

Following the conference call, Nixon released a statement but, he did not outline any specific cuts or changes to his priorities based off of these budgetary shortfalls. In this statement, he called Missouri's economic challenges "historic" and called for a bipartisan effort to "make government more efficient, more effective and more responsive to Missouri families."

Governor-elect Nixon met with President-elect Barack Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and other U.S. governors at conference of the National Governors' Association in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"The President-elect clearly understands the pain that families are feeling, and he has indicated that his administration will work aggressively to pass the type of economic stimulus package that will help us move Missouri forward," Nixon said in a news release.