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29 March 2010

Burlison: Heavy Lifting to Balance the Budget, Opposition to Federal Health Care Mandate

At right: Rep. Burlison discussed legislation with Rep. Scott Largent.

In this Capitol Report I would like to share with you the concerns I and the House have with the recently passed federal health care bill.


Projected state revenues are down nearly 14% over the past fiscal year. We are facing a $500 M to $800 M revenue short fall in FY 2011. Raising taxes will severely cripple businesses big and small and cause more long term unemployment. We have been flooded with emails, phone calls, and visits from various parties asking to not make reductions to their program. We all know we need to reduce spending but we have had a hard time reaching an agreement about which programs should stay, go, or be reduced. Unfortunately the work of securing individual legislator agreement to reductions is a hard task.

The Missouri House successfully passed a $23 Billion 2011 budget on Thursday. This budget draft contained spending reductions of over $220 Million. This may be short of the total reductions actually needed for the next fiscal year. The House was unable to agree on making any additional spending reductions at this time, but we will revisit each line item when necessary. The Senate has agreed to make up differences with additional spending reductions when they receive the budget as passed by the House.

Governor Nixon has also proposed $500 Million of reductions including reductions to K-12 education. This means the State Senate members have agreed they will find a way to reduce spending even more than what the House has done. Under the Missouri Constitution the Missouri General Assembly must pass a balanced budget and the budget must be delivered to the Governor for signature by May 7th. It is imperative we not only balance the budget but also deliver the budget on time under the law. Therefore, the Missouri House voted and passed the Budget and moved it into the Senate for its final phase of spending reduction analysis so we can reach a final balanced budget on time.

Sadly, House Democratic Leadership played politics with our budget and refused to join in the effort to balance the budget. They voted against all significant spending reductions and even rejected Governor Nixon’s proposed reductions in spending. We in the House made the first major rounds of spending reductions for this Budget process. We will now continue with our negotiations with the Senate for further reductions so we can balance our budget, keep our state debt low, and set a climate where we can help our economy recover.


This week I have received several phone calls, letters, and emails from Missouri citizens expressing their outrage and concern with the health care legislation President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have pushed through Congress. I want my constituents to know I’m on your side and in the House we are working hard to protect our citizens from these harmful federal mandates.

On Sunday evening, when the United States House of Representatives passed their health care bill, yielding over a thousand pages, they immediately took away our basic rights. Congress and the President have ignored the cry of the American people and they pushed their own agenda – leaving our citizens to pick up the expensive tab.

We are now required to purchase health insurance whether we want to or not. If we don’t, there will be an annual fine close to $700. Businesses are also affected by the bill. They are forced to provide insurance to all employees if their business employs over 50 people. It doesn’t stop there. The bill also provides tax payer dollars for abortions.

There is a fine line when it comes to mandates, and the federal government has crossed that line. It was difficult to watch the votes roll in the United States House of Representatives on Sunday evening. Even though no Republican voted for the bill, the Democrat majority found the votes they needed to pass it.

The federal health care bill costs approximately $940 billion, which is concerning as we face such a serious economic depression, not to mention our national debt which has shot up into the trillions. Someone has to pick up the tab, and that someone is you and me. We will be taxed through penalties if we refuse to buy health care and adhere to federal guidelines.

Among many of the taxes set forth, a couple stand out:
  1. 3.8% tax on investment income for families making over $250,000 and individuals making over $200,000 starting in 2012
  2. 40% excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” insurance plans, which are essentially high-end insurance plans

I have no direct influence over the actions of our President and Congress, but I do have a say when it comes to what we do in the Missouri House of Representatives to protect citizens from federal health care mandates. Why should the government dictate what you must and must not do – especially when it comes to your own health care insurance?

On the first day of this year’s session, we introduced the Health Care Freedom Act [HJR57] on the floor of the House and approved it for final passage in early March. Sponsored by Tim Jones, R – Eureka, it seeks to protect Missourians from health care mandates sent to us from the federal government.

The Health Care Freedom Act is a proposed constitutional amendment which gives individuals and employers the opportunity to pay directly for lawful health care services without being subject to federal penalties. It also states the purchase or sale of health care insurance in private health care systems cannot be prohibited by law or rule.

This Health Care Freedom Act is vital to the prosperity of the state of Missouri and our citizens. If it passes the Senate, it will go to a vote of the people. This means YOU will have the power to voice your support or opposition for this resolution.

Thirty-eight states have filed or intend on filing legislation to oppose the federal health care legislation, and we are hopeful you will join us in this fight. States should retain the power to regulate health care and allow their citizens the freedom to choose between health care options in the open market.

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