Governor's Proposed Budget - Missouri News Network

by Emily Wolf, Missouri News Network

JEFFERSON CITY — Higher education funding would remain flat and K-12 schools would see small increases under Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed 2021 budget.
The governor’s $31 billion proposal is the first step in creating the 2021 state budget. Lawmakers will use it as a jumping off point in creating the final version by May. Among the governor’s recommendations are raises for most state workers and increases in Medicaid funding.
Under Parson’s proposal, MoExcels — a project created last year to encourage workforce education and training programs in colleges and universities — would receive $19.6 million. That funding goes to higher education institutions.
Missouri One Start, also created last year, would receive $14.9 million to continue workforce training initiatives for Missouri businesses. The A+ Scholarship Program — which provides funding to graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend participating public community colleges, trade schools and certain private trade schools, according to its website — would see a $4.8 million increase. Overall, the budget recommends an almost $10 million increase to higher education grants and scholarships.
Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education, said proposed increased funding for the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant, which targets adults pursuing education in high-demand occupations, offers a parallel approach to the A+ Scholarship Program that targets recent high school graduates.
“Our basic proposition is pretty simple,” Mulligan said. “It’s the idea that in order to drive economic development and improve lives, we need to get more people in the workforce and we need to help them be more productive. The best way to have more productive citizens is to have them have some kind of education or training, so the financial aid programs are important strategies we can use to drive those categories.”
The budget proposal also recommends fully funding the state’s elementary and secondary education formula. The governor also recommends a $10 million increase to fund additional school transportation costs.
If approved by the legislature, the UM System will receive around $416 million for core operations. UM President Mun Choi had asked for that level of funding plus inflation, but that was not included.
The UM System’s NextGen Precision Health Institute is slated to receive $3 million, which is $7 million less than what Choi requested when he met with the House budget committee. The project received $10 million this year; the same amount Choi wants for next year.
The Missouri News Network asked UM officials about the cut, but they did not address that in the written response provided.
“I’m extremely grateful for Gov. Mike Parson‘s support of public higher education and our four universities within the UM System,” Choi said. “The governor has shown through his words and actions that he is a fierce proponent of higher education and recognizes that Missouri’s future depends on having an educated, prepared workforce.”
Other transportation needs also were addressed, with $50 million to continue a program in which local government and the state share the costs of road and bridge projects.