By Janese Heavin
Julie Morff ’04 & ’12 can tell you exactly how the Missouri state budget works.
She knows which House Bills fund which agencies, who’s involved at each stage, and the implications of moving funds. And her ability to explain it gives you confidence in the process.
“There are so many moving parts that it can be confusing,” she says. “But most of us in public service have the citizens of Missouri’s best interest at heart. We want to provide the service to them that they deserve.”
Morff is one of seven budget analysts for the Missouri House of Representatives, House Appropriations Committee. She specifically tracks bills that allocate funds for mental health, human and social services, maintenance, repairs and new and ongoing capital improvements. This past year, she also oversaw the bill that allocates funding for elected offices, including the Office of the Governor and the General Assembly.
If it’s been a while since you’ve watched the Schoolhouse Rock lesson about how a bill becomes a law, the budget process goes something like this: State agencies prepare requests for funds, which the governor then weighs against revenue projections to propose a budget. Morff and other budget analysts format and formalize budget bills before they go through the legislative session. That months-long process involves rewrites, edits and between 50 and 100 amendments.
Hers is a position 163 elected representatives rely on as they make important budget decisions that impact the state.
“As a non-partisan staffer, I work with both Republican and Democrat representatives,” she says. “With term limits and the budget process being so complicated, not all members know exactly how to maneuver the budget and get funding needed in their districts.”
Sometimes, she simply helps them find where existing dollars are allocated in the budget; other times, she explains the ramifications of moving money from one part of the budget to another. In the end, she makes sure they have all of the information they need to make educated decisions.
“She is responsible for overseeing and guiding one of the largest budget bills through the General Assembly,” says Rep. Kip Kendrick, who represents the state’s 45th House District. “Julie’s analytical skills, attention to detail and drive to produce quality work are critical to Missouri’s budget.”
She says she found that drive at Columbia College-Jefferson City.
Morff had gone straight into the workforce after high school, working at a shoe factory for three years before layoffs prompted her to find a new job. She took a position as a receptionist at the Missouri Gaming Commission out of necessity, but found a passion for public service.
She then spent a couple of years as a clerk at the Missouri Department of Public Safety. When her boss there, Ken L. Bishop, left to become executive director of the Missouri State Board of Accountancy, he encouraged her to apply to be his executive assistant.
Bishop not only recognized her abilities, he also saw potential, encouraging her to go to college.
“My boss always encouraged me to think bigger, to want more and to use knowledge to get there,” Morff says.
She took night classes while also working full time, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Accounting and finance classes proved essential in work, and her education boosted her motivation.
“My undergraduate degree helped me learn how to prioritize and gave me the drive to always want to do better,” she says.
After 10 years with the Board of Accountancy, Morff got her first taste of the budgeting process as an analyst for a joint committee at the Capitol. She loved the job, but budget cuts eliminated the position. She then worked for Medicaid Audit and Compliance until her current position became vacant.
“I had a lot of responsibility with doing Medicaid policy and procedures and managing a staff,” she says. “However, I knew I always wanted to be back in the Capitol—and when that opportunity came up, I jumped on the chance.”
Along the way, Morff had the foresight to earn her Master of Business Administration through Columbia College’s online program.
“I was already well into my career, but getting my master’s degree was essential to move higher,” she says. “Not only did the classes advance my knowledge in so many areas, I would not have the position I am in now had I not had it.”
The position required a master’s degree, so Morff was able to apply as soon as the job came open.
“I love working in our beautiful state Capitol,” she says. “I especially like that every year I get to be a part of a process that ends in a legislative bill. That product will be a part of history, and I want to be proud of the job I did and the part I contributed—I can honestly say I am.”
And that gives others confidence in the final product.
“I always boast about Missouri’s budgeting process and the discipline that goes into creating a balanced budget on time, year after year,” says Kendrick, who is also a special projects coordinator in Columbia College’s Office of General Counsel. “However, that doesn’t happen without dedicated and talented public servants like Julie.”
Morff says she ultimately just likes helping others, but she’s also proud of her personal journey.
“I am proud of where I have gotten, and I have done it with honesty and integrity, never compromising my values to get ahead,” she says. “It fills me with a sense of pride knowing that I get to come here every day and be in public service.”