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18 March 2010

Nance: Budget News, At The Capitol

Budget News

Spring break is over at the Missouri Capitol and legislators were in Jefferson City Monday working on the State's 2011 budget. Unlike the federal government, the state must have a balanced budget. That budget must be passed by May 7th and if revenues fall short, it is the Governor's responsibility to adjust appropriations.

Last Thursday, the Governor recommended legislators trim $500 million from the budget he proposed in January. He said the cuts were necessary due to lower than anticipated state revenues. Additionally, over $300 million in federal funding was included in the Governor's original budget, but may not be received. The Governor must work with the legislature to pass a more realistic budget.

It is a discussion that has changed daily but who will step up and be the responsible party?  If we believe the revenues won't be there, should the House make cuts or allow the proposed budget to be approved. If we approve the Governor's budget proposal, he will have to make the tough choices later. That could be devastating to any department that plans on appropriations and then in the middle of the year loses part of their funding. This could especially affect education. The state budget will be discussed on the House floor the next two weeks.

As bad as the budget picture appears, we are in much better shape than many other states who are on the verge of bankruptcy due to years of increasing state government and public programs. Living within a smaller budget is hard for families and it is going to be difficult for all who receive state funding in the upcoming year. Tough choices will have to be made and some restructuring of government may have to occur.

HB 1472 passed through the House on Monday. Called the K-2 bill, K-2 is becoming prolific on the streets and in our schools.  K-2 is an herbal compound that mimics marijuana and can be 10 times stronger. It is important that this compound be designated as a controlled substance so law enforcement can prevent an epidemic of dependency and the criminal element associated with it.

At this time it is sold in many convenience stores as an air freshener. One amendment that failed would have treated K-2 possession the same as marijuana. Those who oppose the bill said that no substance should be criminalized without verifiable evidence that it causes harm to an individual.

The Capitol hosted a Missouri Art Education Association art collection this week. Lawson Middle and High Schools had many beautiful entries. Those having their artwork on display were Nicole Kudart, Lindsey Jones, Ashley Banes, Griffin Johnson, Danielle Bohon, Chris Cechvala, and Zach Ohrenberg. Lewis and Clark Elementary was represented by Trevor Fritz, Megan Chilese, Dyllan Rimington, and Safiyyah Hashmi. Zach's work received the President's Award.

At the Capitol

Whitney Miller from Richmond was at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Visiting Wednesday from Lawson and Liberty were Amy, Jennifer, Jake, Isabelle and William Kanning. They received a tour of the Capitol, Governor's Mansion and Whispering Chamber.

Also visiting Thursday were next years Student Council Members from Excelsior Springs High School, they are:  Tiffany Propst, Shauni Lawrence, Hallie Ring and Wendy Chuning.  Sponsors were: Danielle Hankins and Susan Hevalow.

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