JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After the governor removed $1 billion from the spending plan lawmakers sent him, the Missouri General Assembly is giving the vetoes mixed reviews. 

Gov. Mike Parson cut more than 170 items from the budget, saying he’s protecting the taxpayer’s dime and eliminating unnecessary pet projects. Some lawmakers say a special session needs to be called to fund the state through the rest of the year, but others say it can wait. 

“I believe the budget we passed will sufficiently fund everything that we had outlined and the cuts taken into consideration as well,” House Speaker Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said. “I would rather have the state be prudent fiscally than spend money. The purview of budget cuts is well within the governor’s office.”

For weeks, the budget was at an impasse in the General Assembly. 

“It’s concerning that we don’t have a budget; in my opinion, that doesn’t last a full year, and you can thank the House and Freedom Caucus members for that,” former Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said in May. 

Back in May, lawmakers pointed fingers at each other as they approved a nearly $52 billion budget just hours before the deadline. 

“We will be back here for a special session to have an emergency supplemental,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in May. “Whether that’s before the end of the year or not, I don’t know but the governor has already said that’s going to have to happen.”

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The governor called the budget sent to him “disingenuous” and “problematic,” leaving him to veto a billion dollars out of the spending plan. 

“There’s just a lot of overspending,” Parson said last week. “I think there was over 600 earmarks in the budget; there was a very high number this year.”

Some Republicans agree with the governor, saying the budget was misleading and expecting to be called back to Jefferson City to make sure departments have enough money. 

“It was really smoke and mirrors because, when you look at what was happening, there were one-time allocations that are ongoing expenses,” Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, said. “I would expect that we will be called into a special session for a supplemental budget, probably concurrently in September, so that we can continue funding the state in October, November and December.”

Normally, after each chamber approves their own version of the budget, a bipartisan committee meets to negotiate the differences, but due to the tight deadline, members had to forgo those meetings, leaving the budget chairmen from the House and the Senate to compromise on their own. 

“I thought the budget chairman and the appropriations chairman had wonderful communication with the senators, so I didn’t feel like I was left out,” Coleman, who is running for secretary of state, said. “I think what happens in the legislative process is often frustrating and if you don’t end up frustrated, you’re probably not advocating for enough of your position.”

Some of the big vetoes include slashing nearly half a billion dollars to renovate the Capitol building. Parson wrote in his veto letter that, with no detailed plan in place, the money is not needed at this time. 

He also removed $6 million out of the $8 million lawmakers allocated to keep Missouri National Guard troops at the southern border. 

Parson cut $150 million of the $727 million project to expand Interstate 44 from Rolla to Joplin. 

“There’s a lot of reports saying that there’s a $5 billion surplus and all this money, but a lot of that money is already accounted for, but we do plan to leave about $1.5 billion in surplus for the next administration,” Parson said. 

Others say it’s for the next legislature and administration to worry about. 

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“I’m not afraid of running out of money at all,” Plocher said, who is running for secretary of state. “I don’t believe there’s a need for a supplemental budget while I’m speaker.”

Parson said for now that he has no intention of calling a special session to address the budget but does say that a supplemental will be a must at some point, and he thinks it will be one of the largest the state has ever seen. 

Coleman said the state’s two biggest buckets of money are social services programs and public education, and in order to keep those doors open for those state agencies, more money will have to be allocated. 

“We’re either going to have to cut programs, which I don’t see a consensus to do, or we’re going to have to have a supplemental budget,” Coleman said. 

Parson blamed the cost of a large education bill for many of his vetoes, saying that legislation will cost the state $400 million annually to fund. 

Other items vetoed in the budget include: 

$7 million to improve a terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport

$5 million to build a behavioral health center at North Kansas City Hospital 

$12.5 million to buy land in McDonald County to create a state park 

$2.5 million for gun detection software in schools

$3.1 million to launch a transit planning system and services for seniors, veterans and disabled in Platte and Clay counties and Jefferson City 

What Parson left in the budget included some items he requested from lawmakers, including a 3% funding increase for colleges and universities, a 3.2% pay raise for state employees, fully funding the foundation formula and school transportation costs for K–12 schools, and $56 million for public and charter schools to provide pre-kindergarten programs for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. 

After Parson’s cuts, the state’s operating budget for fiscal year 2025, which started Monday, totaled $50.5 billion.