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19 January 2012

Kraus: State Of The State

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his State of the State address for 2012. As usual, the governor was eloquent in his delivery. I commend the governor for his comments about Joplin and the resilience and teamwork the community has shown since May 22, 2011. There is no doubt the Legislature and administration could learn a lot from Joplin residents and the community that has supported them.

The governor used the speech to outline a new “Missouri Works” program. While many of the pieces are not new, the governor did make a strong case for a uniformed program to create jobs. Unfortunately, he gave few details and much of the program sounded like job promises from previous State of the State speeches. Unemployment numbers may have improved in Missouri, but we still have fewer Missourians working. The Legislature will need to move beyond those broken promises and actually make a difference.

I also applaud the governor for his stand on reforming tax credits. Too much of our budget is dedicated to sending your tax dollars to industries or companies we pick as “winners” while their competitors struggle to keep up. I hope the governor takes an active role in the legislative process on this issue.

In terms of the budget, I am disappointed that the governor once again failed to lead. Hundreds of millions of dollars he calls “savings” are either unattainable or require special legislation to be passed. In his position, he should present a budget that is balanced out of the gate, not on the back of possible votes or possible savings. It will once again be up to the Legislature to make the tough choices needed to fill the large budget gap caused by our earlier reliance on one-time federal stimulus dollars.

One choice the governor did make, but did not discuss in his speech, was to cut higher education by 12.5 percent. This follows cuts of 7 percent and 4 percent the last two years. Missouri’s universities are now being asked to educate our children and grandchildren at the same budget level they had in 1997. I’m not sure why the budget keeps targeting higher education while leaving other programs and agencies alone, but I doubt the Legislature will let those cuts stand.

The governor and Legislature will face some difficult issues this year. We have to fill as much as $500 million in budget deficit. We have to create a climate where businesses want to come to our state and grow here without having to use every tax dollar for incentives. While there are significant differences in our approaches to these issues, I look forward to working with the governor and his staff wherever possible to bridge those differences.

Grain Valley Town Hall

Don’t forget that Thursday night, Jan. 19, there will be a Town Hall meeting in Grain Valley with Mayor Mike Todd. The Town Hall is being held from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Grain Valley Community Center, 713 Main Street.

I will open with a short talk on the 2012 legislative session and then open the floor for questions and answers. Mayor Todd will also be there to discuss local issues and answer any questions you may have.

These town hall meetings are important to me because they give me the opportunity to interact on a personal level with the constituents of the 8th Senatorial District. It is a vital way to keep members of the local community up-to-date on activities within the Capitol and upcoming issues and events. I look forward to speaking with concerned citizens and addressing any questions they might have.

I hope to see you there!

District Days

This is another reminder that District Days at the Capitol for Senate District 8 are scheduled for March 21 and March 27, 2012. If you are interested in attending, let us know by replying to this email. More information will be coming in the next few weeks.

Senate District Maps

For those who have not heard, all proposed maps for Missouri State Senate districts have been thrown out by the Missouri Supreme Court. The process for deciding Senate districts will now start over. As soon as new maps are drawn and approved, we will include them in a Capitol Report.

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