Excess state funds put aside for the Children’s Health Insurance Program last year could be used to restore some of the state’s higher education budget following additional cuts in Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019, according to a news release from the Missouri House of Representatives.
Although the exact amount has not been released, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said, “What I can tell you is it’s going to be significant, I mean in the tens of millions of dollars,” in a video posted by Missouri House Communications.
The excess funds were initially reserved for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, by the House Budget Committee. The program, which has historically received bipartisan support, usually relies on federal funding, but the future of CHIP was called into question when Congress failed to secure that funding in December 2017.
States had to decide individually whether or not to cover the costs of the program.
The Missouri Budget Committee “opted to protect Missouri’s at-risk children without relying on federal funds,” according to the release. CHIP provides health care for children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford or have access to insurance.
Now that the federal government has secured CHIP’s funding through Fiscal Year 2023, Fitzpatrick intends to allocate that money to higher education, according to the release.
Funding for higher education made an appearance on the budget chopping block for the second year in a row. Last year, higher education was cut by $159 million. This year, a $98 million cut looms over colleges and universities across the state.
“The cuts proposed to higher education would be extremely difficult not only for our institutions of higher learning, but also for families and students across the state who would likely see higher tuition rates as a result,” Fitzpatrick said in the news release. “I said from the start that the House would work to find the funds to prevent as much of these cuts as possible.”
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