JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon proposed flat funding for public schools and cuts to colleges Wednesday while acknowledging during his annual State of the State speech that "times are tough" and even small job gains are cause for celebration.
The Democratic governor proposed to slightly shrink the state's spending, shedding several hundred state workers and privatizing some of their functions while denying Missouri's remaining employees a pay raise for the third straight year.
Yet Nixon pledged "to be aggressive and relentless" in fighting for private sector jobs.
"Times are tough. Too many folks can't make ends meet, can't find the jobs they want, or worry they'll lose the jobs they have," Nixon said in his speech to a joint session of the House and Senate. "But even in these tough times, I'm optimistic."
Nixon proposed a $23.1 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — down at least a couple hundred million dollars from the budget lawmakers approved for the current fiscal year.
His budget plan would provide K-12 schools an additional $112 million during the current year, thanks to an influx of federal money. But it would cut schools by $112 million next year. Linda Luebbering, Nixon's budget director, said schools will be asked to carry over this year's additional money into next year.
Even so, schools would be getting far short of the amount they are due. Schools were budgeted to get about $3 billion in basic aid this year. They would be due an increase of about $233 million next year if Missouri were to provide the full amount called for by its funding formula.
Public colleges and universities would take a 7 percent cut next year under Nixon's proposal — an additional $64 million reduction on top of the roughly $50 million cut they received this year.
Nixon proposed to reverse a small portion of the cuts he made this year to Missouri's main college scholarship programs. He also proposed to expand a community college scholarship to graduates of all high schools, instead of only some schools. And he proposed a bonus college scholarship to high school students who score well on certain math and science tests.
A look at Missouri Gov. Nixon's proposed budget
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a $23.1 billion operating budget Wednesday for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2011. Here is a look at his proposed budget compared with the current fiscal year.
DEPARTMENT 2011 BUDGET 2012 PROPOSED BUDGET
Public Debt $48 million $77 million
K-12 Education $5.36 billion $5.15 billion
Higher Education $1.23 billion $1.11 billion
Revenue $432 million $441 million
Transportation $2.63 billion $2.24 billion
Administration Office $287 million $251 million
Employee Benefits $900 million $821 million
Agriculture $42 million $49 million
Natural Resources $310 million $310 million
Conservation $146 million $146 million
Economic Development $257 million $258 million
Insurance $38 million $40 million
Labor $112 million $112 million
Public Safety $524 million $542 million
Corrections $660 million $661 million
Mental Health $1.2 billion $1.24 billion
Health, Senior Services $921 million $955 million
Social Services $7.66 billion $8.17 billion
Elected Officials $112 million $107 million
Judiciary $190 million $190 million
Public Defender $38 million $38 million
Legislature $34 million $33 million
Real Estate $148 million $150 million
TOTAL $23.27 billion $23.09 billion
Note: Nixon in the 2011 budget has restricted the spending of $300 million.