Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens proposed a $27.6 billion budget that includes a slight increase in funding for public K-12 schools while continuing recent cuts to higher education institutions.
Greitens' proposal for the 2018 budget year was released online Thursday shortly before he was to deliver a speech about it at a school in the southwest Missouri town of Nixa.
His plan would provide $3.3 billion of basic aid to public elementary and secondary schools, an increase of about $3 million but still short of what's called for under state law.
Despite the increases, Greitens proposed a significant reduction in the amount of money schools receive to provide bus service to students. The transportation funding is on top of basic aid for K-12 public school districts.
Missouri School Boards' Association Executive Director Melissa Randol said relatively flat core funding along with transportation cuts could lead to hard decisions on the local level. She said in a statement that cuts to transportation funding can have an impact on money for classrooms.
Public colleges and universities would get less than they were originally budgeted to receive this year, essentially continuing at least part of the mid-year spending cuts Greitens has made since taking office in January.
Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty says Missouri House Democrats are disappointed the Republican governor isn't recommending spending more money on public education.
Public colleges and universities would see about $90 million in core funding cuts from what was originally budgeted this year. That would mean cuts this fiscal year would remain in place and funding would be slashed more on top of that.
McCann Beatty predicted higher education cuts will lead to tuition hikes.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said he doesn't think public colleges and universities should raise tuition despite strained state funding, instead saying the universities should tighten their belts.
The budget recommends no pay raises for state workers.
Greitens said tax credits and high costs for health care have caused state budget problems.
Greitens blamed increasing demands for health care on the federal law enacted under President Barack Obama.
He is proposing to end in-home care and nursing home services for more than 20,000 people with disabilities. Greitens did not discuss the specific Medicaid cuts when outlining his proposed budget, But acting state budget director Dan Haug confirmed later Thursday that Greitens' budget plan is seeking to save about $52 million in state revenues - plus additional federal dollars - by making it harder for people to quality for in-home and nursing care.
Haug confirmed that the governor also is proposing a 3 percent cut in the reimbursement rates paid to Medicaid health care providers. That also was not detailed in Greitens' speech.
Greitens wants to set aside $300,000 next fiscal year to pay for photo identification to be used at the polls.
The budget Greitens proposed Thursday also asks lawmakers to put aside $80,000 to spend on IDs this fiscal year.
The money is needed to implement a new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls, with some exceptions.
Voters in November amended the Missouri Constitution to allow for the change. The new law takes effect in June, but only if the state pays for photo identification for those who don't have any.
Details of the budget are now available online.
© 2017 Associated Press