Weather-Related Disclaimer: missives from legislators concerning road conditions, although timely and important, should be considered snapspots in time. For the most recent travel information, please consult MoDOT's Web site at

except when the post starts "MO Expat", all content published on Missives from Missouri is written and supplied by the noted legislator. Said missives will not necessarily reflect the views of Kyle Hill, the operator of Missives from Missouri, and as such the operator does not assume responsibility for its content. More information
Share this missive:

09 January 2012

Lant: Budget, Education Reforms Among House Priorities

Well, opening week of session is behind us and much of the rush to get things started is past. We were treated to opening speeches by leadership of both parties. Legislative priorities were spelled out to us and quite honestly, they made pretty good sense. The first and foremost priority is to balance the budget without raising taxes. As our Federal share of Medicaid funds is reduced by 100 million dollars thanks to provisions of the "Affordable Health Care", it becomes ever harder to find the additional funds in our State budget without increases in taxes. We are committed, at least for this year, to accomplish the task.

We have been challenged to create a climate for new jobs in our State and provide employers with tools to retain workers. There will be discussions on Co-employee liability, Occupational diseases, Second Injury Fund reform, Prevailing Wage Reform, and Tort Reform (loser pays). Taxpayer protection legislation will include County Debt Disclosure, Criminal Justice Reform, and open discussions from interim committee reports.

Much attention has been given to Kansas City and St.Louis School Districts being unaccredited. Many feel that constantly throwing more money at failing school districts is the wrong approach. We will be looking at free market legislation regarding tax credits in unaccredited districts and expansion of Charter Schools. Other topics targeted are The Turner Fix, The Teacher Quality Act, and a Foundation Formula Fix. These are sure to draw a crowd at committee hearings.

Value based issues are also in the crosshairs. These include Veterans Home Funding, Pharmacist and Healthcare Provider Conscience Bills, Mandatory Reporter Reforms, Expanded College savings Plans, and Voter ID Legislation. If you have any desire to witness some lively debates and animated discussions, this would be the session to come visit. We will be starting early with committee hearings and hopefully be able to send bills to the senate early enough to get some significant measures passed.

We will have a pretty light week next week while we await the Governor's State of the State Speech. Shortly after his speech we will get the long awaited Governor's suggested budget. He has been floating trial balloons on funding cuts and adding to and subtracting from his recommendations according to polling opinions. To me, this is not the way to approach the budget process. Last year, after the budget was finalized, the Governor withheld 170 million dollars from Education, Social Services, and other allocated funds. This was immediately challenged by the Auditor and the lawsuit he filed has yet to be heard. The Governor has repeatedly promised Joplin financial assistance in the way of Tax Credits etc. but of the 122 Million promised, only about 90 million found its way to low and medium income housing, and the Governor controlled Housing Commission for the first time in history, requires that prevailing wages are to be paid for residential construction. That means that less than half of his promised funds will replace much needed housing. Meanwhile, he has spent over 45,000 of our tax dollars in fuel for the State Airplane flying back and forth to Joplin for photo opportunities. This, by the way, has been charged to Public Safety, not the Governor's account. Don't take this wrong, I think his presence at first was comforting, but enough is enough. The Governor needs to get behind some of the jobs measures and reforms that are being proposed. I know we are in an election year, but the needs of the people of Missouri should be our first priority. Thanks to the redistricting done by the Appellate Court, many Representatives and Senators find themselves pitted against one another in the upcoming elections. This is going to add a lot of work and a lot of cost to the process. While it is far too late to do anything about the redistricting, I sure hope that the distraction of the elections doesn't take us away from our first responsibility which is to our constituents.

The Adult Sunday School Class at Racine Christian Church is planning an April trip to the Capitol. Many folks have never visited the Capitol and they are sure in for a wonderful experience. I encourage everyone young and old, to make the trip to Jefferson City to visit what is arguably the most beautiful Capitol Building in the United States. With a little notice of your coming, I can arrange for tours of the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the Governor's Mansion. I felt especially honored this morning in Church when the Pastor asked the Congregation to keep me and the entire Legislative Body in their prayers. Believe me, with your prayers and Jane watching my every move, I can't go wrong! Until next week, I am, and remain, in your service.

No comments:

Post a Comment