Tuesday night, Governor Jay Nixon delivered the State of the State Address to the Senate, House and public. Throughout his address, he urged Missourians to take that extra step to move our state forward. Governor Nixon outlined his Missouri Works plan, which aims to achieve several things including growing more auto supplier jobs in Missouri, selling more Missouri-made goods overseas, preparing more workers for high-tech careers, training and hiring more veterans, jumpstarting innovation in science and technology, targeting high-growth industries and creating more jobs in rural communities. The Governor also presented his recommendations for the state budget, including cuts for higher education funding.
Governor Nixon recommended a 12 percent cut in funding for public universities which will leave many of our schools struggling to compensate for this decreased financial support.
I was honored to have Missouri State University President, Clif Smart, as my guest at the State of the State Address. Clearly, the decisions that lie ahead will impact many Springfieldians. I appreciate that President Smart and the delegation from Missouri State made the trip to Jefferson City to watch Governor Nixon's address and to share their thoughts with me.
HJR 43 Update
The House passed HJR 43 today almost exclusively along party lines. HJR 43 was voted out of the Budget Committee last week, and is commonly known as TABOR or the Taxpayer Protection Act.
HJR 43 would cap annual spending at the rate of inflation plus population growth and 1.5 percent and require any excess revenue collections in a given year to be held in reserve. If also approved by the Senate, the measure would go on the November ballot for voter ratification. Opponents argue the concern that the cap would limit funding to schools.
The Missouri Supreme Court on Jan. 17 sent a pair of lawsuits challenging the state's new congressional districts back to a trial judge for a hearing on whether the legislation violates the constitutional requirement that the General Assembly create districts that are "as compact ... as may be." The court remanded the matter to Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green, who previously had dismissed the cases, for a ruling on the merits of the challenge.
In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court signaled that the odd shapes of new Third District, which stretches from the St. Louis metro area to mid-Missouri, and the new Fifth District, which combines Kansas City and most of Jackson County with three rural counties to the east, might render the redistricting bill unconstitutional. "Districts 3 and 5 are alleged to be particularly suspect, as can be confirmed by any rational and objective consideration of their boundaries," the court said in its unsigned opinion. "However, it is a question of fact, yet to be tried, whether those districts are 'as compact and nearly equal in population as may be.'"
In order to expedite the process, the court ordered Green to render his judgment no later than Feb. 3. Regardless of his decision, it almost certainly will be appealed again to the Supreme Court for a final determination. The court indicated it wants the matter resolved quickly so that, if necessary, the General Assembly has sufficient time to enact a new redistricting bill before candidate filing opens on Feb. 28.
I am refiling bullying legislation this session. The language of the bill is the exact same as the bullying bill I sponsored during the previous session. We are gathering signatures for co-sponsorship.
Because this is my final session as your State Representative, I know this my last chance to promote this legislation. I hope that my colleagues in both chambers will join me in supporting and passing this bill. If you would like to learn more about this legislation, you may find it [HB460] here.
At right: Representative Lampe and Minority Floor Leader Talboy at a budget interview with KWIX.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Committee met on Wednesday and heard testimony on HB 1043. HB 1043 is the House's foundation formula proposal. HB 1043 would require for the dollar-value modifier to be recalculated every fiscal year bringing in Fiscal year 2013.This legislation also repeals the provision which allows the state adequacy target to be adjusted to accommodate available appropriations once the phase-in is completed and several obsolete provisions regarding the formula's phase-in-period. The Elementary and Secondary Education Committee will meet to vote on HB 1043 next week.
Kelly Schultz, my former legislative assistant, is now the Director of the Office of Child Advocate. Governor Nixon appointed Kelly for this position in July 2011. Gubernatorial appointments must be approved by the Senate. The Senate voted in favor of her appointment today.
The Office of Child Advocate is part of the Office of Administration and independent from the Department of Social Services. This serves as an impartial fact-finder when an agency action or failure to act is in question. If you would like to know about the Office of Child Advocate, you can access its website here. I am proud that Kelly has been appointed. The children of Missouri will find no better advocate than Kelly Schultz.