More than 30 citizens representing various organizations came to the Capitol this week to give public testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee on how legislators should allocate money in the state budget. Most of the organizations that testified have received some level of state funding in the past. Among the groups represented were organizations that work with persons with developmental disabilities, senior citizens, individuals with substance abuse issues and operators of child advocacy centers.
With the state facing a shortfall of $500 to $700 million, most of the organizations that testified realized that they were likely in competition with other groups in the room for scarce state dollars. Without indicating how the state might fund the different groups, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) proposed a guiding principle for the committee: “While there are many worthwhile groups, who do we absolutely have to help, because they have no one else?” Many of the groups present probably felt they fit that criteria.
Deliberations on the state budget will start to intensify after Gov. Nixon presents his budget in the State of the State address on Jan. 17.