CHICAGO - Missouri has lowered by more than $300 million the level of revenues expected in the current fiscal year, Gov. Jay Nixon announced.
Nixon announced last week the state's Consensus Revenue Estimate - set by his administration and the House and Senate -- for fiscal 2015 and 2016. Fiscal 2015 ends June 30. The estimate for fiscal 2016 is $8.67 billion, about 3.6% more than the revised estimate for fiscal 2015. The 2015 figure was revised downward to $8.37 billion, more than $300 million below budget projections.
"By continuing to work together, we will keep Missouri's budget in balance and our spotless AAA credit rating intact," Nixon said in a statement.
Rating agencies this year affirmed Missouri's triple-A ratings but warned they are watching to see how the state deals with income tax cuts and what future action the legislature might take to challenge the governor's budget withholding powers, which were weakened in a voter approved referendum in November.
"We believe this amendment could potentially weaken the state's strong governmental framework to make midyear budget adjustments, which in our view, could potentially lower the rating," Standard & Poor's wrote.
The constitutional amendment allows lawmakers to reconsider any spending changes made by the governor through his statutory withholding powers.
The state closed out fiscal 2014 June 30 with revenue collections of about $8 billion, down 1% from the previous year, and slightly below projections, but Standard & Poor's noted that reserves remain fully funded at $557 million. The state also held a general fund reserve of $222 million.
The state's $26 billion fiscal 2015 budget assumed 7.4% revenue growth "which may prove difficult to achieve," Standard & Poor's said.
Nixon recently signaled that he would promote borrowing to help fund needed repairs to the state capitol in the coming years. Nixon joined with lawmakers to tour areas in need and discuss the repairs and potential financing.
"We have an obligation to be good stewards of the public assets with which we've been entrusted. And each day we wait to address these issues, we add to the ultimate cost of fixing them," Nixon said. "That is why I'm proud to stand with these legislators today to lend my support to including these needed Capitol repairs and renovations in a fiscally responsible bond issuance next year."