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:

12 January 2012

Sater: Constitutional Amendment Advances That Would Prohibit Excessive Spending

Winter has finally arrived in Missouri and Jefferson City where I am writing this. I have enjoyed the last few weeks of mild weather, especially because of lower heating bills. Just like political harmony does not last, neither does the mild weather. Speaking of politics, we are now in our second week of session and some movement of bills are starting to proceed. I am in my last year and the last year that I will be Chairman of Health Care Policy. A lobbyist told me yesterday that it seemed I had been around the capitol longer than dirt. In some ways it does seem that way and in other ways, it has flown by. Anyway, I will have the same committee members as last year and we will probably start hearing bills in the next few weeks.

I continue to serve on the Budget Committee where we were presented HJR 43 this week. HJR stands for House Joint Resolution. It is processed as a normal bill and has to be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor, but instead of going into law, it will go on the ballot for the citizens of Missouri to vote on because it deals with the state constitution.

The economy and state revenue goes up and down. In 2008 we had a 9.8 percent increase in revenue. In 2010, we had a minus 3-4% in revenue. It seems that in the good times, Republicans and Democrats cannot keep from passing legislation that costs the state money. When we have the bad times, such as the last few years, we run out of money because we did not put enough in reserve. This bill would make us do that in the good times. After figuring in the inflation rate or CPI, if revenues increase more than 1.5% over the CPI, then the next 1% or up to 2.5%, is used for debt reduction. For revenues beyond 2.5%, these funds would be placed in a kind of savings account to be used only when revenues are down to keep essential programs properly funded. As I mentioned, both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of over spending during good times. In the 1990s, during a few good years, the sales tax of groceries was suspended. This was a permanent fix for a short term budget issue. HJR 43 passed out of committee and now will go the House floor next week.

A couple of Senate bills are being heard. One is a statewide mandatory rabies vaccination for all pets. Even though this may sound good, there were only 29 confirmed rabies cases last year - most were from bats and skunks, not pets. It is ok for cities and counties to enact such regulations, but this is overkill and I still lean toward local control, not state mandates.

In the early 1990s, our state budget totaled around $5.9 billion dollars. It now totals over $23 billion dollars. Of that $5.9 billion, $4.5 billion was state revenue and $1.4 was federal. Now, 60% of our funding is federal. Because of this, the federal government holds the purse strings over the states and whether you call it blackmail or not, it forces us to do some things we might not want to do. A Senate bill being heard is proposed because of federal highway funds being withheld if we do not pass the legislation. The bill requires that truck drivers pass a medical test before they are allowed a commercial driver’s license. That is the way things are. Currently, the federal government is diverting $20 million dollars in transportation funds from road construction to highway safety because our statutes on convicted DWIs are not as stringent as they would like. Unless we pass another bill on DWI federal standards, then the $20 million dollars will not be available for road repairs and construction.

If you have any questions about the issues talked about or need more information, please contact me anytime. Thanks for letting me serve. My Capitol Office is open now Monday through Friday and can be reached at (573) 751-1480. You can also call me at my home in Cassville (417/847-4661).

No comments:

Post a Comment