Missouri revenues up, and with them school bus funding

JEFFERSON CITY | State revenues continued to roll in above projections in January, allowing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to release an additional $10 million in transportation aid to school districts.

State collections for the fiscal year to date are up 6.3 percent over the same period last year, well above the forecasts of lawmakers and the administration.

That gave Nixon’s office the confidence to boost the school bus subsidies, which were slashed earlier this year.

The subsidies originally were funded by the legislature at $152 million, but Nixon cut them down by $70 million when he approved the budget last June.

In the last two weeks, however, surging revenues — and pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike in the House — have prompted him to add back a total of $17.5 million.

Although revenue trends are positive, state Budget Director Linda Luebbering said there was still cause for caution.

Much of January’s revenue surge was attributable to a drop in tax refunds so far this year compared to last year.

The demand for refunds could pop up again in coming months, she said, as more people file their tax returns.

And that extra $10 million for schools won’t last either, Luebbering said. While the rising revenues allow for the bump in the current year, next year’s budget probably doesn’t include the funds to continue it.