Governor Nixon signs 2017 budget bills

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JEFFERSON CITY — Governor Jay Nixon signed the fiscal year 2017 budget bills Friday. 

Gov. Nixon specifically praised the budget for increased funding in several major categories including: public higher education, the mental health system and strengthening cybersecurity.

The mental health system will be granted an increase of more than $200 million to its budget in 2017.

Debra Walker is the director of public and legislative affairs for the Department of Mental Health. She said the increase in funding will help find several key services offered by the department.

"The $200 million will mean a significant increase in services and treatment for Missourians with developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance use disorders," Walker said.  

Missouri State Budget Director Dan Haug said the mental health funding increase were at "historic levels." He said he thinks Gov. Nixon's budget was focused on addressing two major issues.

"Priorities in this budget for the governor are: significant increase in the mental health services," Haug said. "(And,) the 4 percent increase for higher education institutions in Missouri which will allow the institutions to not raise tuition for Missouri students are two of the biggest accomplishments." 

Along with the tuition freeze and increase to mental health funding, there is also a $2 million increase to cybersecurity in Missouri.

"That funding will go to the IT department," Haug said. "To prevent cyberattacks on Missouri. As you've seen, a lot of business and other governments have been hacked and information taken. This will allow us to upgrade our technology and ability to make sure that doesn't happen in Missouri."

Gov. Nixon also commended the legislators investment in the state's economic development.