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Missouri Expecting Nearly $8 Billion in Revenues

CHICAGO — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed fiscal 2014 budget can count on roughly $7.9 billion in general revenues, a figure that's up slightly from the current year.

Nixon and legislative fiscal leaders announced on Wednesday their consensus revenue estimate for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

Net revenues are expected to total $7.9 billion. That figure is up by $237 million from the current fiscal year. Officials assume economic growth of 4.8% but the loss of some one-time revenues, the continued phasing out of the state's corporate franchise tax, and federal payroll tax changes lower the growth estimate to 3.1 %.

"My top priorities include balancing our budget, holding the line on taxes and keeping our fiscal house in order," Nixon said. "Because of our bipartisan fiscal discipline these past few years, Missouri is one of only a handful of states with a spotless triple-A credit rating, and our economy continues to move in the right direction."

Nixon, who will unveil his proposed budget during his state of the state address next month, is a Democrat and the Legislature is controlled by Republicans.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer and House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream arrive at the figure along with Nixon's administration.

"Revenue forecasts call once again for a fiscally disciplined State budget," Schaefer said in a statement.

The state's current budget totals $24 billion. The Legislature did not approve any new-money borrowing for the current fiscal year but the budget relied on some relief from debt restructuring.

The state this summer refunded $164 million of general obligation bonds for both relief and traditional present value savings. The state earlier in the year refunded $285 million of revenue bonds for budget relief and PV savings.

Ahead of the summer sale, all three credit rating agencies affirmed the state's triple-A ratings. Standard & Poor's in its review cited as credit strengths the state's strong reserves, moderate debt burden, and quick action to cut spending amid a sluggish recovery.

An ongoing challenge remains its limited ability to raise revenues and a requirement that revenue in excess of personal income growth be rebated to taxpayers under the Hancock Amendment, Moody's Investors Service said.

Fitch Ratings said the state benefits from a budget reserve fund equal to 7.5% of net general revenues.

The state has $4.4 billion of tax-supported debt but only 10% is backed by its full-faith-and-credit pledge. About 70% of state-related debt was issued through the highway commission and is repaid with transportation revenue. As of June 30, 2011, the state's largest pension system was 79.2% funded and it regularly makes its actuarially required contribution.

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