As tax receipts continue to drop, Missouri lawmakers are facing the challenge of balancing the state budget with revenues that have decreased by more than 12 percent. On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon authorized $125.7 million in cuts for this year's budget.
Around $65 million in cuts were recommended by the House Appropriations Committee for Health, Mental Health and Social Services, which is chaired by Rep. David Sater, of Cassville.
"We have programs that are mandated by the federal government," said Sater. "For instance, Medicaid has a federal poverty level, and if an individual qualifies, we have to pay for their medical services."
According to Sater, Missouri's Medicaid costs have increased over $800,000 this year. By the end of June, costs are expected to be $900,000 more than recorded in 2009.
"The amount we are spending on Medicaid has gone up," said Sater. "We have inflation of 5 to 6 percent on top of that.
"Due to inflation, the state will have several $100 million more in expenses this year," said Sater. "We have to pay those costs. We don't want to turn any elderly residents away."
The increase in costs for mandatory programs has forced lawmakers to turn their attention to non-mandatory programs when considering budget cut options.
"We have to look for unnecessary programs," said Sater. "Programs like alternatives to abortion are near and dear to my heart, but we feel we can cut those temporarily."