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30 January 2012

Lant: Budget Work Begins In Earnest

Last week work began in earnest on the budget. The Research Department released some facts about the Governor's proposal that I thought I should share with you. The following proposals are what allows the Governor's budget to balance:
  • 191.7 million savings through reallocations in the Medicaid program
  • 89.0 million reduction for 4-year higher education institutions
  • 64.3 million in additional debt collections
  • 51.8 million increase from a tax amnesty plan
  • 41.0 million through debt restructuring
  • 29.3 million in reduced staff in state agencies
  • 16.9 million reduction for community and technical colleges
  • 15.0 million in additional lottery revenue through additional advertising
  • 7.0 million reduction in biodiesel subsidies
  • 2.0 million reduction in public health agency grants
Estimated tax revenue collections for next year are forecast to be just slightly above revenues collected in 2009. With the additional burden of a 90 million dollar increase in the Medicaid burden mandated by Obama care, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Bear in mind, these are just proposals from the Governor, but we do have some tough decisions to make.

We passed two taxpayer protection bills last week. HB1135 will require all administrative rules to sunset after ten years. This will keep the Executive Branch from over regulating and give business and citizens a chance to say how state agencies are run.

HB 1140 makes local governments more accountable to the taxpayers in their area and ensures that they are making the best use of their tax dollars. Although there is little need for this in our area, all the larger metropolitan areas will be able to make good use of this new tool.

In the weeks ahead we will be spending considerable time trying to create a stable and productive environment for Missouri employers and small business owners. We also have to do something to dramatically reform our failing public education system.

We have some of the best public schools in the Nation and we also have some of the worst! Our goal this year is to bring accountability back to all of our public schools. The Governor's budget provides for over 3 Billion dollars going to the Foundation Formula for K-12 schools. We need to make sure that this money is being spent wisely to insure the best education for all of Missouri children. I think we are finally learning that just throwing money at problems in education won't solve them.

Last Sunday we were at the Grand Opening of the new Community Center at Pineville. Wow, what a nice facility! This is going to be a much needed addition to our community. There is a great kitchen facility and plenty of seating available for meetings and community activities. Watch for info in the near future
about a Town Hall meeting that I am trying to plan.

Do you have your "Yellow Dot" yet? Sheriff Evenson and Camille Graves are introducing this great program to our community. It will provide first responders with critical information about us in case of an accident where we might be unconscious or unable to respond. You simply have a yellow vinyl dot in you back glass and a yellow envelope in the glove box with the information about who to notify in case of accident, which hospital you prefer, what medications you are using, etc. It is free and could make a huge difference in case of an accident. The Republican and Democrat Clubs were both signed up last week and they are going to be available all over the county in the coming weeks.

In closing this week, I want to point out what a terrific job our local newspapers do of bringing us timely articles and pictures. I rarely go anywhere in Newton or McDonald County for any kind of function that one or more of our newspaper reporters and photographers aren't there. They certainly do a great job of keeping us all informed!

Until next week, I am, and remain, in your service.

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