As the clock ticks closer to 6 p.m. Friday, the Missouri Senate is not letting up in its efforts to accomplish the goals we set in January. Earlier this week, lawmakers approved a measure that will prevent in-home and nursing care services for about 8,000 elderly and disabled Missourians from being cut. The legislation will also restore about half of the proposed provider rate cuts in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, which was passed by the General Assembly last week.
House Committee Bill 3 secures about $35 million towards a newly created Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund, which will be used for services for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The one-time sweep will use excess funds collected from fees and moneys from a limited scope of departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, institutions, officials and agencies from the state. The sweep will not affect funds generated from most professional licensure fees or funds that pull down a federal match, like the Federal Reimbursement Allowance. The Legislature has swept state funds several times before, including twice in 2013 and once in 2003.
As legislators, we have a commitment to the state to pass a balanced budget by a constitutionally specified deadline — even in tough budget years, such as the one we are currently facing. After months of debate and discussion, the Legislature put in some long hours last week to find viable solutions for funding the critical functions of the state while still protecting our most vulnerable citizens. I applaud my colleagues for their out-of-the-box thinking and willingness to compromise.
There is still much more to accomplish before the final gavel falls on Friday. I plan to keep you updated these last couple of days as important legislation continues to move through the Senate chamber. I am optimistic we will get our last priority measures to the governor’s desk in time, and our hard work will result in even more progress for the people of Missouri.