Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he plans to veto hundreds of earmarked spending items

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (Photo courtesy Missouri Governor's office)
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(Missouri Independent) – Hundreds of earmarked items in the $51.7 billion budget passed by lawmakers this year will be vetoed, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday, just days before the new fiscal year begins.

Speaking with reporters after the groundbreaking for a new multi-agency state laboratory, Parson had two criticisms for the budget plan — it goes overboard on earmarks and shortchanges essential state services.

Parson said the administration’s budget staff had identified more than 600 earmarked items throughout the 16 appropriation bills for the fiscal year that begins Monday.

“We’re going to veto a lot of the earmarks, especially some of them that maybe were not even ready to be done, that just people put different things in there,” Parson said. “There’s gonna be a lot of the those making it across the finish line, but not everybody’s gonna get what they want.”

The Independent analyzed the budget and found more than 400 earmarked items – with 284 new this year – totaling $2.1 billion in spending. 

Parson called those earmarks “a lot of overspending.” The state services that are not fully funded will require a large infusion of additional cash, he said, but lawmakers won’t have to return this fall to pass a supplemental budget.

“You’ll see one of the largest supplementals at the beginning of next year that you’ve seen,” Parson told reporters.

The state is sitting on a large surplus, but Parson said it is not as large as the fund balances in the treasury would make it appear. The budget passed by lawmakers spends $15.3 billion in general revenue — including $700 million on earmarked items identified by The Independent. 

When they were finished with the budget in May, legislative leaders claimed two achievements – a total of $1 billion less than Parson requested in January and ongoing general revenue spending that was less than ongoing revenues.

In legislative language, that means that spending above the expected $13.1 billion in general revenue would be one-time expenses met by tapping the surplus.

When the total after his vetoes is added to the amount of the supplemental budget needed to maintain services, he said, that will no longer be true.

“That was more of a political gesture than it was anything,” Parson said.

The House Budget Committee chairman, state Rep. Cody Smith of Carthage, and the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, state Sen. Lincoln Hough of Springfield, are both running for statewide office.

Even with spending from the surplus, Parson said, the state will have about $1.5 billion in extra cash at the end of the coming fiscal year.

“I’m gonna make sure,” Parson said, “that there’s enough finances available for the next administration.”

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Rudi Keller


Rudi Keller covers the state budget, energy, and the legislature. He’s spent 22 of his 30 years in journalism covering Missouri government and politics, most recently as the news editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Keller has won awards for spot news and investigative reporting.