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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon released $67 million in restricted spending for this year's budget Wednesday, while the Senate overwhelmingly approved nearly $300 million of bonding for state building repairs that had been delayed because of lagging revenues.
The spending measures come after several months of improving revenue collections. Nixon last year withheld more than $700 million of authorized spending in order to balance the budget, some of which had already been released before Wednesday.
The newly released money includes $10 million in transportation aid for local school districts, $15 million for college scholarships and millions more in matching funds for building projects at public universities. Nixon announced the funds' release at the University of Missouri campus in St. Louis, where $10 million of that money will help construct a new business administration building.
State revenues have grown 7.7 percent so far this fiscal year, which runs through June 30. That's above the Nixon administration's projection of 4.6 percent but still short of the roughly 10 percent that would be needed to fully fund the budget. However, about $269 million in the budget is still being blocked — including more money for K-12 transportation aid, a building project at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, dental coverage for adults on Medicaid and child care subsidies for low-income working parents.
The money released Wednesday also includes funding for preschool grants, the Parents as Teachers early childhood program and forensic exams in child abuse cases.
About $5 million will go to repairs at state buildings, which has become a priority for lawmakers hoping to catch up on years of delayed maintenance. The Senate also approved bills that would set aside $40 million in bonding to pay for maintenance at the state's aging Capitol, where stalactites are growing in the substructure. Public colleges and universities would get $160 million for repairs and renovations under the bonds, while $100 million would go to other state-owned buildings.
Senators also agreed to set aside $10 million in bonding for state parks; about $15 million in general fund revenue for parks had been cut in the House's earlier proposal.
The Senate also reduced the amount of time Missouri would have to pay off debt from the bonds from 25 years to 15 years for college and university projects and down to 10 years for other repairs to state-owned buildings. Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph said that could save taxpayers more than $90 million in interest.
The House can either adopt the Senate changes or opt to hash out the differences, but time to reach a compromise is short. Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to approve budget bills.
Budget bills are HBs 17-19.
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