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08 April 2010

Tim Jones: Creating a Balanced Budget, States' Rights Measure Passes

Tumultuous spring weather marched briskly across the Midwest this week bringing, in turns, balmy, windy summer like weather, followed by rolling storm clouds and hard rains, followed by crisp, cooler sunny skies by week's end.  Inside the Capitol, moods matched the weather as we calmly and steadily moved through some bills and had passionate, more earnest debate on other legislative matters.  As we continued to work on bills in the House this week relating to strengthening your 2nd Amendment rights and continuing to urge the Federal Government to restrain itself as intended by our Founding Fathers, many eyes were on the Senate as they worked long hours into the night dissecting and making necessary cuts to our State's budget to reach the constitutionally mandated balanced budget bills…

"The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." –Alexis de Tocqueville

Creating a Balanced Budget

Missourians are well-aware of the effects of the economic downturn and how it has required them to tighten their household budgets. The recession has affected our state in the same way, as lawmakers are currently working to create a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that falls within our means and maintains our commitment to fiscal responsibility.

What makes this dramatic economic slump different from previous ones is that the problems we face will not be fixed with temporary solutions. We must consider dramatic changes to the way our state government operates, to make it more efficient and effective while reducing spending. Our state's conservative values and wise financial decisions in recent years have allowed us to weather the storm better than many other states, but difficult budget choices are forthcoming as the Senate begins work this week on its version of the fiscal year 2011 budget.

One of the most important duties of the Legislature each session is to allocate money for state programs, projects and services for the coming fiscal year. In fact, creating a budget is the only constitutionally required task lawmakers must complete every year by a certain deadline. This year, we must submit a balanced budget for FY 2011 to the Governor by May 7th, which means that in addition to facing historic revenue declines, we are also in a race against time to put together a balanced budget before that deadline.

The budget process is long and complicated, and it requires a great deal of compromise amongst nearly 200 legislators. First, the Governor submits his budget recommendations to the Legislature early in the year (which he did in January). Lawmakers take into consideration the Governor's recommendations, as well as the testimony heard in the House Budget Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee from various state departments and agencies, as well as the public, in the first weeks of session. The budget is divided into several bills according to state department, which originate in the House. Appropriations bills must first be passed by the House Budget Committee, then by the House as a whole, before they head to the Senate.

Once the bills reach the Senate, they are sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which then combs through the House's budget allocations, and develops its own version of the bills (this is where we are currently in the process). The bills must be passed out of committee before moving to the full Senate for debate. After they are passed by the Senate, the appropriations bills go back to the House for approval; however, since changes are typically made to the House's budget in the Senate, both chambers must work out their differences. This usually happens in a conference committee, which consists of members from both the House and Senate. Compromises are made, and then the bills return to each chamber for one final vote of approval. Finally, the budget is sent to the Governor. As you can see, it is a time-consuming, complex process, but it is designed to ensure that the budget is created with thoughtfulness and deliberation.

This year, we must make cuts on a much larger scale than previously thought. However, let me assure you: we are all committed to creating a budget that will make state programs and services operate with more efficiency, but will not further threaten Missouri's future financial standing. We will fulfill our constitutional obligation to create a balanced budget, but we must understand that serious cuts are unavoidable.

I am encouraged that so many of my colleagues are committed to being fiscally responsible and NOT raising taxes on hard-working Missouri families. Our budget situation is not to be taken lightly, but with restraint and innovation, it is not impossible to turn around. The economy may be cyclical, but our actions during the tough times are what will shape our state for years to come.

The Tenth Amendment & State's Rights

Over the years, the federal government has continued to grow out-of-control through wide-ranging federal programs, overreaching regulation, and costly unfunded mandates that infringe on the sovereignty of our states.  As a result, many states have stood up for their rights by proposing numerous measures aimed at reasserting the state sovereignty that is provided by the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.  This week, the Missouri House passed House Joint Resolution 88, which is a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that reasserts the sovereignty of the State of Missouri and its citizens under the Tenth Amendment.

The powers of the federal government are clearly established in the Constitution.  They include establishing currency, post offices and roads, creating federal courts, entering into treaties, declaring war, and providing for our national defense.  Under the Tenth Amendment, those powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states.  But unfortunately, through unfunded entitlements like the new federal health control law, the federal government has continued to expand beyond its constitutional authority and infringe on the rights of the states.  Entitlements like this are not only beyond the authority of the federal government and infringe on the rights of the states, but the billions of dollars in unfunded mandates within them are financially devastating for state governments.

We believe it is time for the federal government to respect the authority of the states provided by the Tenth Amendment by returning to its constitutional responsibilities.  With the passage of House Joint Resolution 88, we sent Congress a message that Missourians have had enough of Congress' continued neglect of the protections of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.


As many of you know, I am the chief sponsor of HJR 57, the "Health Care Freedom Act". As I have discussed, if it is passed and approved by the voters, it will secure the current rights and freedoms that Missouri citizens have to choose to participate in whatever health care system or health care that they want.  As we have seen, the disastrous aftermath of the passage of ObamaCare continues to dominate our headlines and continues to show us how truly flawed this new federal entitlement is.  HJR 57 was "third read and passed" out of the House several weeks ago by a vote of 109-46.  The bill is now pending in the State Senate and the Senate is also debating their version of the Health Care Freedom Act (SJR 25).  You may view the legislation at this link: Thank you all very much for your continued support of this very important proposed constitutional amendment, and I will continue to keep you posted on its progress!


I am very excited to report that Six Flags St. Louis, which is located in the heart of the 89th District, is hiring more than 3,000 employees to fill positions for the 2010 season. Six Flags is NOW OPEN on the weekends!  Six Flags will be hosting job fairs to fill these positions on April 10th and 17th.  For more information, please visit:

The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank

The St. Louis Cord Blood Bank provides an opportunity for new mothers to save someone's life by donating the blood left over in the umbilical cord and placenta after her baby is born.  Cord blood is a rich source of adult stem cells (which are non controversial).  If not donated, this valuable resource is merely discarded as waste.  Thousands of people are alive today thanks to caring moms who have donated their baby's cord blood.  More information is available at:

Tim's Legislative Platform for 2010

I have sponsored and filed sixteen individual pieces of legislation this Session.  I have co-sponsored numerous other bills.  To review all of the bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, please follow this link:

Personal News & Notes

Whether you celebrated Passover or Easter this past week, I do hope that you and your family had a blessed and happy celebration relating to these two important and sacred holy times.  We are now entering the final six weeks of Session and the pace and length of time we will experience on the House Floor will greatly intensify.  This weekend, the West St. Louis County Lions (of which I am a member!) will begin their annual Spring BBQ's, yet another sign that spring is fully upon us and summer is right around the corner.  Enjoy the weather, get ready to start that lawn work again and enjoy spending time with your friends and families this weekend!

Visitors at the Capitol

I had many visitors at the Capitol this week including my good friends Adam and Chad Wallis and their mom, Lynn, Robert Forsyth, Dan Kappel (from the regional YMCA), Mike Gavosto (from the Wildwood YMCA),  and Tom Walsh (from the St. Louis Police Officers' Association).  If you are ever in or around Jeff City, please stop by!

Feel Free to Contact Us!

If my extremely dedicated (and very busy!) Legislator Assistant, Jody Williams, or I can be of any assistance throughout the year, please do not hesitate to contact us at 573.751.0562 or by email at jody{dot}williams{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov or at tim{dot}jones{at}house{dot}mo{dot}gov.  We have had many visitors to the Capitol so far this year; if your travels find you anywhere in or around Jefferson City, please do not hesitate to stop by and visit us in Room 114!  Until our next report, I remain, in your service.

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