New Auditor's report shows Missouri falls short in economic growth

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released a report on Thursday that found the need for individual taxpayers funding government is greater than ever. 

Galloway said the incident is increasing budget instability as the state struggles to meet its obligations. She also said Missouri is facing steep cuts to critical services. 

"I hear from taxpayers throughout the state who want quality schools for their children, safe roads and bridges, and affordable higher education," Auditor Galloway said. "Budgeting requires the courage of common sense. The legislature and the Governor need to be honest with Missourians on how decisions in Jefferson City affect citizens' daily lives."

Galloway's report provides an analysis of policy and economic factors that could grow the state out of a financial crisis.

The Auditor's office said the state needs to generate $500 million in revenue and would also need to add approximately 168,000 new jobs paying the state's average wage. 

The report shows that as of September 2017, there was 116,000 unemployed workers in the state. 

Galloway said if the average wages were increased by a dollar, it would still not generate enough new revenue to address the state's shortfall. 

The report said despite record low unemployment and policies aimed at attracting businesses, Missouri has not experienced the same level of economic growth as other states.

68% of local school districts have seen an increase in reliance on local funding over the past ten years, mostly due to increases in property taxes. 

Families sending children to college have seen tuition and fees increase by 25% over a six-year period. 

"Today more than ever, individual taxpayers are left footing the bill for government," Auditor Galloway said. "Policymakers in Jefferson City talk a lot about lowering the tax burden on Missouri families. The reality is a family of four is paying higher property tax rates to support their kids' schools, shelling out higher sales taxes on their newborn's diapers, and having more difficult conversations around the dinner table about how to pay for their teenager's college tuition."

The report also found the budget cannot withstand increases in unemployment. 

Galloway warned that if the state saw a recession like in 2009 it could see significant budget cuts and ongoing delays in issuing income tax refunds to taxpayers. 

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