COLUMBIA - Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, House Budget Chairman, discussed Missouri’s 2019 fiscal year budget with Columbia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Shell Knob, said the first phase of tax reduction will reduce state revenues by about $150-160 million for the 2018 fiscal year, which concludes June 30th. By that date, he said Missouri’s revenue needs to grow 4.25 percent from the previous fiscal year for the budget to be balanced.
One of his goals for the upcoming fiscal year is to “hold down mandatory expenses.” At the beginning of this year, Fitzpatrick said one out of every six Missourians was on Medicaid. However, he said something needs to be done to rein in Medicaid’s cost.
In regards to the Missouri Department of Transportation, Fitzpatrick said it has been able to match federal funding. Despite this fact, he said the state has a long-term problem and needs to “burn down the road fund balance."
He added that Missouri will have to tie its transportation revenue to inflation, and eventually address how electric cars are incorporated into the gas tax for the 2019 fiscal year.
Fitzpatrick also addressed state legislators’ relationship with the University of Missouri.
“I think that the changes in leadership at the university have been positive ones,” he said. “As a state legislature, we need to realize that the University of Missouri is one of, if not the greatest, asset that the state has in a lot of ways.”
Mun Choi, University of Missouri System President, said the relationship has been improving.
“The tuition increases that have occurred during the past 20 years, they all resulted because of reductions in state appropriation,” he said. "And as Representative Fitzpatrick mentioned, the state is also undergoing some financial challenges, so we understand the reasons why our budget is being cut year after year.”
Choi said the system is looking at opportunities to increase revenue in order to keep MU’s core values - “to train students, to perform research and engage with the community” - intact.