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It was a busy week in the Capitol as the Missouri House worked on the state’s $24.7 billion operating budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Balancing the budget is the most important job the Missouri legislature has. In fact, it is the only constitutional duty that we, as elected members of the legislature, are required to perform.

Education is perhaps the most important area of spending and is constitutionally required to be funded before any other area of state spending. This year the Missouri House was able to increase spending for the Foundation Formula by $65 million. Moreover, a $2.4 million increase for Bright Flight Scholarships and a $1 million increase for the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program were allotted for in the House budget.

Sadly, one of Washington’s first targets with sequestration cuts were scholarships for members of the country’s military. The Missouri House values the sacrifice that so many of our fellow Missourians have given while proudly serving this America. Working diligently together, we were able to restore the cuts to the Missouri National Guard tuition assistance scholarships.

Education is just one of the many areas of spending that the state budget covers. Other highlights of the budget include the restoration of the $1.5 million cut to the Cyber Crimes Task Force the Governor proposed earlier this year. Moreover, after the recent discovery of the Department of Revenue scanning and retaining personal documents, a violation of state statute, $85 thousand was cut from DOR’s appropriation for FY2014.

The FY2014 budget is comprised of thirteen separate spending bills, each with a specific area of appropriation:

-HB 1 Appropriates money to the Board of Fund Commissioners

-HB 2 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the State Board of Education and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

-HB 3 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Higher Education

-HB 4 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Revenue and Department of Transportation

-HB 5 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Office of Administration, Department of Transportation, and Department of Public Safety

-HB 6 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Conservation

-HB 7 Appropriates money for the expenses and distributions of the departments of Economic Development; Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration; and Labor and Industrial Relations

-HB 8 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Public Safety

-HB 9 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Corrections

-HB 10 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Mental Health, Board of Public Buildings, and Department of Health and Senior Services

-HB 11 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, and distributions of the Department of Social Services

-HB 12 Appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of statewide elected officials, the Judiciary, Office of the State Public Defender, and General Assembly

-HB 13 Appropriates money for real property leases and related services

In the Missouri House, we are committed to making sure Missouri’s budget lives within its means just like all Missourians do when making decisions about our families’ finances. The task is often difficult; especially when funds are limited. However, it is an important duty. The budget now moves to the Senate where it awaits committee hearings and floor debate.

For more information about the bills mentioned above or about any others that have been introduced please visit the House of Representatives website, www.house.mo.gov. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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