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Parson signs Missouri budget that includes funding for I-70 expansion, teacher salaries

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks on Monday, April 24, 2023, during remarks kicking off St. Louis Tech Week at World Wide Technology’s world headquarters in Maryland Heights.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, shown speaking on April 24 at World Wide Technology in Maryland Heights, signed the state's nearly $52 billion budget Friday.

Gov. Mike Parson gave his blessing Friday to a $51.8 billion budget that includes funding for an expansion for Interstate 70 and efforts to boost teacher pay.

Parson signed numerous bills that make up the budget funding the state government through fiscal 2024. They include nearly $2.8 billion to expand Interstate 70 to at least three lanes in both directions.

Lawmakers and transportation experts have been discussing for years how to expand I-70. Parson had originally proposed expanding portions of the roadway, but lawmakers ultimately approved a plan that will include the entire highway.

"With this budget, our administration has done the right thing – the conservative thing – to make strategic investments and maintain responsible spending," Parson said in a statement. "Missouri's economy is strong. Our revenues are up, businesses are growing and investing, and we maintain a historic revenue surplus, but we must not spend just for the sake of spending.”

The budget also has $29.4 million to provide a baseline teacher salary of $38,000. While that program existed in the last budget, the state only provided 70% of that funding and required a local match. This year, the legislature added $7.6 million to eliminate the need for a local match.

Other notable items include $300 million for a new psychiatric hospital in Kansas City and $288.7 million for capital improvement projects at public higher education institutions.

“There really was meaningful and long-term stuff that we did in the budget this year,” Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said earlier this year.

Parson ended up issuing 201 line-item vetoes, totaling around $555.3 million.

Once again, Democrats were able to make their mark on the budget. That’s largely because House Democrats teamed up with Senate Republicans and Democrats on conference committees that included a number of the party’s spending priorities.

Many of the projects in the budget were made possible by the state’s large surplus.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, said in a statement that thefinal budget uses the surplus funding available from the federal government and the monies entrusted to us by the people of Missouri to aggressively improve our state while remaining fiscally responsible with an eye towards the future.”

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.