My appropriations committee – General Administration – begins meeting Monday, Jan 23rd to start hearing testimony from Statewide Elected Officials, the Office of Administration, the General Assembly, the Department of Revenue, the Judiciary and the Public Defender. This process will involve daily hearings (sometimes two a day) when we’re not in session. I will keep you up to date as we work to forward our budget recommendations onto to the House Budget committee - the process evolves...
PHOTO ID SENATE BILL HEARING - FIRST OF THE SESSIONHere we go again.
Monday the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections committee, chaired by Sen. Kevin Engler, heard SB442 sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer. I did not testify but took dubious notes on this season’s first voter ID hearing.
There was no public support at the hearing of SB442 but many testified against it : Missouri Secretary of State’s office; Denise Lieberman, senior attorney with the national Advancement Project and representing a diverse statewide coalition; Jeremy Lafaver with the MO ACLU of the Eastern District and representatives from Paraquad, Missouri NEA and Missouri SEIU.
Sen. Engler remarked during the hearing, ”If you’re not smart enough or wise enough to get a MO drivers license, then you shouldn’t be voting.”
This was after testimony that voter ID efforts will greatly impact those with disabilities and the elderly. Sen. Engler repeated his comments several times after the Paraquad legislative liason testified from his wheelchair. I was appalled.
I continue my opposition against all efforts of voter suppression. I hope you join with me to keep Missouri elections “free and fair” for all as stated in our Missouri state constitution.
Read my latest commentary on voter ID bills in this week’s St. Louis Jewish Light - http://www.stljewishlight.com/opinion/commentaries/article_3493b866-41fe-11e1-acea-0019bb2963
MY HOUSE ELECTIONS COMMMITTEE IS SCHEDULED TO HEAR THE HOUSE VOTER ID BILL - HB1104 - SPONSORED BY REP. SHANE SCHOELLER TUESDAY AT 7:30 AM IN HEARING ROOM 3. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY OR TESTIFY IN PERSON, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
NIXON PROPOSES HALF-BILLION IN STATE BUDGET CUTSIn delivering his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Jay Nixon on Jan. 17 proposed $500 million in spending cuts in order to balance a $22.98 billion state operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year without a tax increase. Nixon, a Democrat, also outlined his policy priorities for the 2012 legislative session, which include protecting worker rights, reforming charter schools, reinstating campaign contribution limits and a job creation package that emphasizes revitalizing the automotive industry in Missouri.
Although the governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would increase basic state funding for local public schools by $5 million to more than $3 billion, it also calls for cutting higher education spending by $105.9 million. It would be third consecutive year that state funding of public colleges and universities would be reduced. Nixon’s budget balancing plan also calls for saving $191.7 million through efficiencies in the state’s Medicaid program, with no changes in eligibility or covered services.
In addition, the governor called for eliminating another 800 state jobs, bringing the total number of positions cut from the state workforce since he took office in 2009 to more than 4,100 and resulting in the smallest number of total state employees in 15 years. To provide additional state revenue collections in the future, Nixon also asked lawmakers to eliminate some the tax credits programs that are siphoning about $700 million a year from the budget. Although the Senate last year made tax credit reform a priority, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives refused to go along. As a result, it is unlikely lawmakers will actively pursue reform efforts this year.
HOUSE PASSES AMENDMENT TO FURTHER LIMIT SPENDING – 1st Floor Action of the SessionThe House of Representatives voted 105-54 in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would place new restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to increase state spending. HJR 43, the first legislation the House has debated this year, advanced to the Senate on a near-party-line vote, with majority Republicans in favor and minority Democrats opposed.
The measure is a top priority of House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, who said it would end the “boom and bust” cycles in the state budget. House Democrats agreed but said it would leave Missouri in a perpetual state of “bust.” After a decade of deep state budget cuts, opponents said the measure would prevent the state being able to reverse those cuts in the future.
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. I joined with 54 members of the Minority Caucus in voting NO.