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19 March 2010

Engler: Rebooting Government

Recently, budget officials announced that as revenue collections continue to decline, the revenue estimate for the current fiscal year had to be revised.  The new estimate, based upon lower than expected collections, shows a revenue decline of $700 million compared to the previous year, the largest drop in history. Preliminary estimates for the coming fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2011, show that revenue will fall $200 million short of earlier projections.  Although the state of Missouri has been able to weather the national economic downturn for a couple years, these figures call for serious actions on the part of the Legislature as we work to craft a budget that will be within our state's means.

The budget proposal delivered by the governor in January is no longer feasible.  In addition to crafting his proposal with $300 million from Congress that they are not going to send to us, these new revenue estimates show that a new plan is necessary.  The governor has made some proposals, but has not come close to closing the budget gap. Major changes must take place.

The solutions to these financial issues have to be long-term, especially since many expect our current budget woes to last as long as 2013.  This is an opportunity for us to restructure state government so that it is more efficient and streamlined.  The Senate is committed to taking the lead on this process, which is why we recently introduced a program to allow citizens from throughout the state to share their cost-cutting ideas.  The "Rebooting Government" program is designed to find innovative solutions to our current problems by collecting submissions online.  You can share your ideas by visiting and clicking on the "Rebooting Missouri" link. Your ideas, whether they call for more control, alterations, or deletions, will be considered and could go a long way to helping balanced the budget.

As we work to make government more streamlined and cost-effective, the federal government continues to spend out of control.  The state is working on ways to ensure our state's 10th Amendment rights are protected.  When the forefathers of our country wrote our Constitution, they wrote the 10th Amendment to make it clear that powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states.  This week, we passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 34, which would reaffirm Missouri's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment and would demand that the federal government stop all activities outside the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

Another bill making its way through the legislative process is legislation that would outlaw a substance called K2.  This is an amphetamine that is a combination of synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana.  Currently, it is sold in our state as a "spice" to teenagers and young adults, but this is really just a controlled substance being sold under a loophole.  This week the Senate gave initial approval to SB 887, a bill that would make K2 in this state an illegal Schedule I controlled substance.

Finally, this week the Senate passed a ban on texting while driving. SB 781, changes current law to apply to all drivers in the state of Missouri. Currently, only kids 21 and younger are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It now moves to the House of Representatives, for their consideration.

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