Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' Budget Plan Could Cost Public Libraries Millions

Mar 11, 2017

Patrons participate in an event at the Woodneath Library Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Credit Mid-Continent Public Library

Missouri’s public libraries could lose about $6 million in state and federal funding if Gov. Eric Greitens gets his way.

As part of his $27.6 billion budget plan for the state, Greitens has recommended cutting about $3 million from public libraries. This reduction places Missouri’s libraries at risk of losing another $3 million in federal funding.

“The three million in cuts [proposed by Greitens] leave the libraries on the brink of losing federal funding,” says Mid-Continent Public Library's Jim Staley, also a member of the Missouri Library Association.  “Any cuts during the fiscal year, which have happened each of the last three years, would trigger that funding loss.”

Mid-Continent Public Library is one of the biggest library districts in the state, consisting of 31 branches across three counties in the Kansas City metro area. Staley says the cuts would have the biggest impact at small, rural libraries.

“The internet service at those libraries is provided by these state funds, and it can be up to 50 percent of their budget that they’ll see cut,” he says.  “So these small libraries in rural areas really have a lot to lose.” 

But it's the loss of federal dollars that could impact Mid-Continent’s programming.

Those federal matching funds are really important because they allow the state to do a grant program that libraries like Mid-Continent use for all kinds of experimental programs,” says Staley.

All 31 Mid-Continent libraries have early literacy computer stations that depend on this federal money.

Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR