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20 January 2012

Dempsey: Promoting a Balanced Budget and Job Growth in the 2012 Legislative Session

The Missouri General Assembly has convened in Jefferson City for the 2012 legislative session. We begin with two main goals – passing a balanced budget Missouri taxpayers can sustain without a tax increase and putting people back to work.

As we weather the biggest economic recession since the Great Depression, Missouri is one of the few states that is still in good overall financial condition. In fact, we are one of only seven states with a Triple A Bond rating. That’s because, unlike politicians in Washington, D.C., over the past three years, we in Missouri have been prudent and have made tough decisions, including cutting more than half a billion dollars. However, this year brings new challenges as we look for ways to make up a shortfall estimated to be around $400 million.

This week, the governor gave his state of the state address to the Legislature. I was disappointed to see that his plan for balancing the budget relies in part on speculation and the passage of special legislation. Once again, it will be up to lawmakers to correct his oversight.

Another of our main goals for this year’s session is spurring job creation. Times are tough but it is important that we create an environment where existing businesses can expand and where new companies are encouraged to relocate to Missouri. The Senate has indentified ways to improve our business climate for “mom and pop” small businesses and large corporations alike.

In order to create jobs to help Missouri families thrive, our state’s employers need to be able to keep and create better-paying jobs with benefits. Our plan in the Senate starts by curbing excessive bureaucratic regulations, restoring balance to the Missouri Human Rights Act in order to reduce frivolous lawsuits and keeping the Workers’ Compensation System as the exclusive remedy for workplace accidents. This last reform in particular will help protect co-workers and employers from having to defend themselves in court for honest mistakes.

I will talk more about our goals for the 2012 legislative session in my next column. In the meantime, I always appreciate hearing from you. If you have any questions about the topic discussed above, or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

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