On the heels of this celebration, many of us hope to discuss issues of job creation and fair treatment of workers, of education and opportunities for all. Governor Nixon's State of the State address, and Chief Justice Teitelman's State of the Judiciary brought the House and Senate together in two of those rare occasions when the same messages are delivered to both chambers.
After we heard of these leaders' hopes and visions for our state, the House reconvened to begin the session with a bill that divided us almost without exception along partisan lines.
I am hopeful we can do better going forward. There are opportunities to positively improve this state through the implementation of good public policy. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of Missouri's future.
Governor's State of the State...My View
The State of Missouri continues to have to cut programs in order to balance our budget. In an environment where we are considering every option and looking in every direction for job creation opportunities, it is hard to hear that the Governor's proposal includes an approximately 12% cut to higher education. After all, we know that companies move to states that have a well educated workforce.
With today's businesses starting and growing in the areas of science and technology, these cuts to our post secondary educational system seem counter-intuitive. And yet, we have few other places we can cut. Due to being unable to fully fund the K-12 education foundation formula, the legislature will be looking to revamp the formula so that it meets the state budget rather than the budget being based on what we believe the needs to be.
The Governor is taking full advantage of the Ford and GM plants that continue to grow jobs here after incentives he championed proved successful. We will be putting people back to work by encouraging the ancillary businesses that produce items used in the building of automobiles by providing tax incentives for them to locate and hire people here in Missouri.
The Governor knows full well that Missourians are in no mood for any tax increase even though funding for programs and services are being cut. (When are people in the mood for tax increases??) It would be my hope that he and the legislature will support the "Mainstream Fairness Act," which allows the State to collect internet sales taxes which are often already being paid. This influx of uncollected taxes would help fund education or any other programs the legislature deems worthy. Let's see if the legislature has the will to make this happen for our communities and state!
To listen to or read Governor Nixon’s 2012 State of the State address, please visit http://www.mo.gov/sots2012/.
The Resolution that Divided the House
HJR 43 moved to the floor quickly this legislative session. It goes to show you that work can get done early when those in charge deem it so. This resolution, if passed through the Senate and the Governor's desk, will be a constitutional change sent to be voted on by the people to limit the increased amount of money the state can spend to the CPI plus 1.5% each year, regardless of revenue and the needs of Missourians. As you know, the Hancock amendment in Missouri already imposes limits on increased revenue, with additional expenditures subject to a vote of the people.
If you believe all of our programs were appropriately funded in 2008 (the base year) and that we will never need to consider new opportunities or deal with new problems, you might support this legislation. Most of us on the minority side of the aisle believe that Missouri's current situation does not represent the best we can be...and this legislation without vision goes too far in limiting our ability to become better than we are. I included a link to this legislation last week, and here again. Here is a link to the Columbia Tribune article, fairly representative of the articles around the state.
About Nora Geary
Nora Geary is currently pursuing dual masters degrees in Public Health and Social Work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. While interning at the Capitol, Nora will focus on health related policies that ensure quality care of older adults as well as policies that will facilitate the health and well-being of all Missourians.
I am grateful to Washington University and Professor Tim McBride for allowing Nora to work with me as we craft and advance good health policy legislation.
About Drew Stiehl
Drew Stiehl is a senior Sociology and Psychology major at The University of Missouri. Originally from Wildwood, MO, Drew has a passion for environmental issues and workers' rights. He has already demonstrated great skill and sense in office management while working on substantive issues. This experience will support his efforts to gain additional leadership and public speaking skills.
About Nicholas Arroyo
Nicholas Arroyo will complete a finance degree this semester at the University of Missouri and will be participating in a variety of capacities working with the Missouri Veterans History Project, founded through my office. In addition to his enthusiasm for working with Veterans, Nicholas has developed a passion for supply chain/logistics in the past year working for a trucking company, and will enter an Operations Management Trainee program upon graduation with PepsiCo in Saint Louis. He hopes to gain insight into the legislative process while also reaching out to our Missouri Veterans by coordinating interviews to capture their stories of service.