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Missouri’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Missouri’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $29.8 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, Missouri’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $50.1 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $8,163 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.
Missouri’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($1,807) and public welfare ($1,601). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
Missouri’s combined state and local general revenues were $51.0 billion in FY 2019, or $8,304 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Missouri uses all major state and local taxes. After federal transfers, Missouri’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($1,444), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and individual income taxes ($1,147).
Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, was elected in 2020 with 57 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2024.
Republicans control both the House of Representatives (111 Republicans to 49 Democrats) and Senate (24 Republicans to 10 Democrats), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in Missouri. All Missouri House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms; roughly half the senatorial seats are on the ballot in 2022, and the other half will be up for election in 2024.
Missouri’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
Missouri uses an annual budget. The legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, nor is the governor required to sign one. Deficits may be carried over into the following year. However, the governor must submit a balanced budget, and own-source revenue and debt must meet or exceed expenditures. Missouri further limits annual revenue growth with a budget rule based on personal income growth. This is a binding rule and requires a vote of the people to override it. A two-thirds supermajority is also required for legislation that raises taxes. The state also limits total authorized debt incurred by the state.
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
Missouri’s current budget
Missouri enacted its FY 2022 budget in June 2021. The enacted budget includes $35.6 billion in total spending and $10.5 billion in general fund spending. As part of the budget, Missouri also passed a series of tax changes, which included reducing its top income tax rate by 0.1 points and creating a nonrefundable earned income tax credit.
Under the American Rescue Plan, Missouri will receive $2.7 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $2 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Missouri had not yet reported how it plans to spend its state ARP funds.
According to NASBO, Missouri’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
FY 2021: $9.8 billion/$29.8 billion
FY 2020: $9.2 billion/$27.3 billion
FY 2019: $9.5 billion/$26.4 billion
For more on Missouri’s budget, see
Missouri’s economic trends
Missouri’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $55,159 in 2021, ranking 37th among the states. It was below both the national average of $63,444 and the Plains regional average of $60,113. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $57,290 in 2020, ranking 38th among the states and below the national average of $64,994. Missouri’s poverty rate was 13 percent in 2020 (five-year estimate), above the national rate of 12.8 percent.
Although Missouri’s averages tell a story about the entire state, Missouri is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of Rolla’s median household income was $37,252, and its poverty rate was 27.3 percent; the city of Wildwood’s median household income was $135,177, and its poverty rate was 3 percent.
Missouri’s unemployment rate historically tracks the national average. (See how COVID-19 is affecting state employment and earnings data.)
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. In Missouri, the average unemployment rate in 2021 was 3.5 percent for white residents, 9 percent for Black residents, and 4.1 percent for Hispanic or Latino residents. (This is preliminary data. See the 2020 data for a more detailed breakdown of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.)