Monday, April 29, 2013

House Advances Major Tax Reform

The Missouri House took a considerable step toward sweeping tax policy reform to achieve and promote an economic rebound this week, perfecting and passing HCS SS SCS SB 26, 11 & 31. This bill reduces income taxes at all levels, not just for large corporations.

Missouri must have a friendly business climate in order to compete in the global economy, and attract businesses to our state. But this measure goes further and rewards the hard work of individuals and the risks of entrepreneurs. Through SB 26, the House aims to make Missouri not only business-friendly, but family-friendly, entrepreneur-friendly, and job-creator-friendly.

Over a five-year period, this legislation will reduce the individual income tax from the current 6% rate to 5.33% and Missourians with incomes under $20,000 will receive a $2000 income tax deduction. For businesses, the current corporate income tax rate of 6.25% will go down to 5.5% and the businesses first $25,000 of corporate income will not be taxed at all. The most important cut, however, is the 50% reduction on the business “pass through” income tax. These “pass through” corporations – the sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations – generate more than half of the business income in the United States. Small businesses are truly what keep this country – and this state – moving.

Missouri will make up for the revenue difference by phasing in a 0.6% sales and use tax over the next five years. Opponents of tax reform say this will devastate the poorest Missourians, but this is false. Necessities like food, gasoline, and mortgages will not see any sales tax increase. Meanwhile, individuals who have the means to buy new cars every year will make their contribution through an increased sales tax.

To ensure Missouri does not have a revenue deficit crisis, the bill has a built-in stopping device. Each phase of the individual and corporate income tax cut is dependent on a revenue increase of at least $100 million from the previous fiscal year. Simply put, if the tax cut does not work as expected, we will not continue it.

Overhauling our tax structure will undoubtedly mean some changes, but these will be rewarding changes. A cap on revenue will force future legislators to be true stewards of Missourians’ tax dollars, instead of jumping to create a new government program every time a problem arises. New programs often start with good intentions, but more often than not, half the money allocated to programs for the less-fortunate goes to administrative costs.  In other situations the programs produce little benefit with less than promised results.

The legislature should not be in the business of creating government jobs. Bureaucratic jobs often outlive their use and under-employ their workers. In the past few months we have seen federal employees – educated, hardworking individuals – lose their jobs due to sequestration. The only way to stop this trend is to encourage businesses to open up in every town and city. We have to remove the barriers for smart, dedicated individuals to set up their own shops and furthermore, we need to encourage families to reinvest in the local economy by allowing them to keep more of their money.

That is what SB 26 does for our state. It enables entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams of starting a local business. It attracts corporations to relocate to Missouri, bringing with them hundreds of positions for good, family-sustaining jobs. And it gives Missourians a break, allowing them to keep more money and spend it as they like, on goods and services in their local economies, and giving their own neighbors a helping hand.

SB 26 now returns to the Senate for final legislative approval before heading to the Governor’s desk. This measure is something both the House and Senate believe in. No matter the Governor’s action, your Republican-led House will continue to pass similar legislation to help our state rebound, and place more of your hard earned dollar back in your family’s budget.

DSS Policy Change a Win for Taxpayers

You may have recently heard that the Missouri Department of Social Services was contracting with private corporations to move people off of temporary state aid programs with work incentives and offloading them to the more permanent federal disability program.  Their basic idea was simple: save Missouri tax dollars in the short term by dumping people off onto the 100% federally financed permanent disability programs.  The Governor and his administration endorsed the idea, but the practice came under the ire of the media.  Once it was reported, the legislature moved quickly to investigate.

After repeated inquiry by Rep. Jay Barnes’s committee on Government Oversight & Accountability and Rep. Sue Allen’s committee on Appropriations – Health, Mental Health, & Social Services, the Department has retracted major components of this policy.  The bottom line is that government programs for the disadvantaged should serve the truly disadvantaged.  State government should not contribute to the waste, fraud, or abuse found in federal programs.  This contract had strong incentives for companies (they are to be paid $2,300 per person shifted!) to push people onto the disability roles where there is no motivation to work.  Federal dollars or not, they are taxpayer dollars and we all pay them.  Your government, regardless of whether it is local, state, or federal, should be frugal with your dollars and consider the total impact of its actions, and the House’s actions have forced the Nixon administration to do just that.  I will continue to do all I can to keep government accountable to the people and to bring reform to any bureaucratic agencies that need it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

House Seeks to Protect Women and the Unborn

This week the Missouri House third read and passed House Bill 400, sponsored by Representative Jeanie Riddle (R-49). This legislation will ban web-cam abortions in the state of Missouri and ensure that women will meet with a doctor, in person, in the same room while receiving an RU-486 abortion. This legislation protects women from an industry that is seeking to make a profit by providing sub-standard care to women.

During a web-cam abortion, a doctor can sit in front of a computer at a remote location – even in another state – and give the thumbs up for the abortifacient, RU-486, to be administered by a nurse. A woman takes the first dose of this drug, which starves the baby, at the office. She then is sent home with a second pill that induces labor.

The tragedy is that women seeking abortions of any kind are already in a difficult situation. Proponents of chemical abortions say that women can expel their baby surrounded by who they choose. But the truth is these women are often alone. Web-cam abortions only intensify that isolation. If complications arise because of the side effects that RU-486 can cause, the woman has no trusted doctor to call. Meanwhile, she is charged the same amount of money for the chemical abortion as for a surgical abortion, while the clinic saves all the expense of getting a doctor to come and supervise. Clinics are turning a profit at the expense of women—that is unacceptable.
HB 400 is about protecting women’s health and safety. While it is tragic if a woman makes the choice to abort her baby, she should still have access to the utmost quality care of a physician. It is already heartbreaking to lose one life – why put the life of the woman at risk, too? One hundred and fifteen members of the House of Representatives, in a veto proof bipartisan manner, agree and have sent this bill to the Senate.

Rep. Davis’s Veteran’s Proposal Moves to Senate

If there is one thing we can all agree on in Missouri, it is that we respect and should honor our veterans. Our state has many young veterans - women and men fresh from Afghanistan and other posts around the globe. These new vets have sacrificed four or more years of their lives serving their country, even as their peers attend college and raise families. These service members are there for us in national crises and in natural disasters, and it is important that we are there for them when they return to civilian life.

House Bill 114, sponsored by Representative Charlie Davis (R-128), aims to recognize the training veterans receive in the military. Beginning in January 2014, every university, college, and vocational or technical school will be required to award academic credit to students who have already taken equivalent courses as part of their military training.

This bill also makes it easier for nurses and other health-related professionals to keep their civilian certification while serving in the armed forces. Active duty healthcare professionals will be exempt from license renewal fees and, under certain conditions, from continuing education requirements. If a person is assigned to a combat area, it is unreasonable to expect them to take continuing courses: they are already on the scene in the classroom of experience. If a serviceman or servicewoman is continuing their professional training through the military, this bill allows those courses to meet the licensure board’s requirements.

We need qualified employees in this state and country. Who better than veterans to fill that role? Veterans have the discipline and commitment to take full advantage of higher education. Here in the Missouri House, we are working to fund those educations, and to remove the barriers that might discourage veterans from seeking more training. They have served us and it is our responsibility to do our best to serve them.

House Bill 114 passed the House this week and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Health Committee.

House Honors 2nd Amendment

Protecting our Second Amendment rights has never been more salient than this session. With the US Congress and President Obama striving to limit Americans’ access to firearms and ammunition, we must do everything within our power to protect our rights. The Missouri House recently gave final approval to several pieces of legislation that protect our rights to defend ourselves, our homes, and our families.

House Bill 436, sponsored by Representative Doug Funderburk (R-103), establishes the “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” This act declares that self-defense is an unalienable right, which cannot be corroded by any level of government. In the Declaration of Independence our Founders made “Life” the foremost of our unalienable rights. The right to self-defense is paramount in guaranteeing the right to life.

House Bill 170, sponsored by Representative Casey Guernsey (R-002), nullifies any federal laws that seek to cripple Missourians’ right to self-defense. This bill, called the “Firearm Protection Act”, specifies that no official shall enforce a federal firearm law when the firearm is manufactured, sold, and owned solely in Missouri. This is an important protection against future federal government overreach.

For too long, the federal government has expanded its powers through the “interstate commerce clause.” This clause was written to ensure a unified currency in this nation and to encourage business among the states. It was never meant as a means to regulate values or infringe on rights.
We must always remember that the true chain of authority in this country starts with the citizen, who loans power to the state. The national government is the child – not the big brother – of the states. We in the state legislature have the direct responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of you, the citizens who granted this authority. That is our goal in the Missouri House.

House Advances Triple E Agenda

This week the House took action on Rep. Anne Zerr’s HB 698, which contains many of the legislative proposals I outlined as part of my “Triple E” Agenda.  This agenda, with its focus on education, energy, and economic development, hones in on what Missourians have consistently told legislators are the focus of their families and co-workers. 

What Does HB 698 Do?

This legislation has many proposals that aim to cut, cap, and create tax credits.  We have focused on several industries that have great potential for economic impact or already offer great benefit and could become stronger if government would not penalize them so greatly with taxation.  A few of these are listed below and I would encourage you to visit for more information. 

Data Storage – This multi-billion dollar industry is bringing high-paying jobs to local communities across the country.  Other states are benefiting greatly because of the incentives they have in place to encourage investment within their communities and we want Missouri to follow suit.  If a facility were to come to Missouri, the construction costs, which are much greater than normal warehouse construction, would be a boon to the construction industry and those that supply it.  The high-tech jobs that would result would add millions in payroll to the local economy and bring with it benefits and healthcare to more Missourians. 

Angel Investment – Our angel investors take enormous risk to bring new products to their full production and sales potential.  Investors will be treated in much the same way as donors to charities – they will get a portion of that investment back in the form of a tax credit that can be utilized against their state tax liability in 2013 or in the next five (5) tax years.  The science and manufacturing industries stand to make great gains whenever the government lets innovation take over and the private sector do what it does best – create jobs.
Historic Tax Credits – For many years we have authorized tax credits on qualified renovations to our state’s historic buildings.  Downtowns have been revitalized, new housing opportunities have become available, and Missourians have been put to work in the construction, real estate, and other industries.  We have continued this incentive with added budget controls because of its great benefits to local communities large and small.  With a little reworking, our state’s budget makers will be aiding in predicting revenues and the private sector can continue keeping Missourians employed and our historic districts from wasting away.

Monday, April 15, 2013

House Urges Koster to Protect Missourian’s Religious Liberties

The Missouri House took action this week to encourage Attorney General Chris Koster to act in the best interest of Missourians by protecting their religious freedoms and conscience rights pursuant to the First Amendment.  I filed House Concurrent Resolution 35 in the wake of the errant US District Court’s decision that sections of Senate Bill 749 – overwhelmingly passed by the General Assembly after being vetoed by the Governor – was unconstitutional.

What was SB 749?

Senate Bill 749 provided employers the protections needed after the Democrat Congress and the President moved to violate the rights of millions of Americans in requiring them to provide insurance coverage for anti-life forms of “healthcare” for their employees regardless of their religious objections.  Missouri employers shoulder much burden already in providing benefits in the form of health and dental insurance coverage for those who work for their businesses or organizations.  They have made it clear, however, that being forced to cover religiously-objectionable services was a step too far.

What’s Next?

HCR 35 will need further action from the Senate, and I am hopeful they will concur and go on record in support of advancing the cause of religious liberty and freedom in our state.  Business owners should not be forced to provide products to their employees that they find morally objectionable or that violate their religious beliefs.

House Supports Basic Rights

This week the Missouri House advanced another piece of legislation to enhance your Second Amendment rights with HB 533, sponsored by Representative Jeanie Riddle (R-49). This bill grants state employees the right to store a firearm in their vehicle on state property, as long as the vehicle is locked and the firearm out of sight.

The aim of this legislation is simply to ensure that state employees are not denied the right to defend themselves while traveling to and from work. There are several instances in which having a firearm in one’s vehicle would ensure safety and even save lives. Suppose that, upon pulling into their driveway, a person is confronted by an assailant. If the person has a firearm, they can defend themselves and their loved ones from possible harm, and prevent a needless tragedy.

There are few places a person is more helpless as when they are stranded on the side of the road late at night. If a person has a wreck or if their car breaks down, they are at the mercy of passersby. Even with a cell phone, friends or the police may not arrive on the scene for several minutes – which can be a common occurrence in rural areas. During that time, any individual, alone and exposed, is at risk for assault. A firearm, kept in the vehicle during the work day, puts power back into this person’s hands.

There are also less alarming applications for this law. A law-abiding state employee who enjoys hunting or target practice in their leisure time could store their firearms in their car and continue on to the shooting range right after work. This would save time and – especially important with today’s prices – gasoline.

Self-defense is the most basic of rights. HB 533 acknowledges this foundational part of American law and simply allows state employees full advantage of their right to personal safety.

Nixon Administration Confirms Sharing Data with Feds

If you have been minding the state news wires, you have no doubt heard the accusations that the Missouri Department of Revenue, which operates the Division of Motor Vehicles, has been scanning, storing, and sharing private information with the federal government regarding our citizens who are permitted to carry concealed weapons.  The original complaint came from a Stoddard County resident who did not wish for their information to be scanned at the local DMV.  Just last week, the Missouri State Highway Patrol admitted that in fact they had requested on two occasions the complete list of Missouri CCW holders and they had forwarded that information on to the federal government. 

Why Should I Care About This Issue?

There are a variety of reasons why this issue is premier.  First, it is against the law.  The Missouri General Assembly, in 2009, passed HB 361 which specifically states “no citizen of this state shall have his or her privacy compromised by the state or agents of the state.” 

Second, while the government might have good interest in certain data at the group level (this helps when they are tracking and mitigating disease, for example), I can think of no good reason the government should be pinpointing CCW holders individually.  Having a CCW is not a crime or grounds for an investigation.  In fact, it should be encouraged.

Third, this action is one of many in a long line of mishaps attributable to the Nixon administration that shows their continued disdain for accountability and transparency in government and their continued effort to centralize power in the Executive Branch, no matter the means or the ends.  Whether it was the mishandling of the E. coli incident at the Lake of the Ozarks by Nixon’s DNR, the incredible debacle of crony capitalism involving Mamtek at Moberly that cost taxpayers millions at the hands of Nixon’s DED, the continued mishandling of the application of the Prop B dog breeder compromise by Nixon’s Department of Agriculture, the unnecessary purchase of a new plane at a cost of over 5.5 million dollars to taxpayers or this latest incident involving the sharing of your private identity information and disturbing disclosure of Missouri’s entire CCW database to the federal government, the Nixon administration seems to care little for accountability, transparency or being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.

What Are We Doing to Help?

The House has responded with Representative Richardson’s (R-Poplar Bluff) House Bill 787, which would further prohibit the Department of Revenue from retaining copies of source documents used to obtain driver's licenses and nondriver's licenses.  On the Senate side, Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) has led the investigative charge and continues to garner information from the Nixon Administration regarding this apparent breach of privacy and trust. 

My office continues to receive a variety of concerns from constituents regarding this evolving issue.  I am committed to ensuring your government is responsible in protecting your privacy.  If you have further questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know.

HCR 35 / CCW Privacy Breach Vlog

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Missouri Solution: Market-Based Medicaid Transformation

No doubt you have heard in the news that Governor Nixon met with Republicans this week to promote his ideas for Medicaid and to intimate that he supports our efforts of true, positive, Medicaid transformation in Missouri.  The Supreme Court decision from last summer makes Medicaid expansion optional for the states. While he may promote flat out expansion at any cost, he was willing to consider support for a proposed plan for reform from House Republicans. We also agree that it should be Missourians, not the federal government, who make these pivotal decisions for our state.
The conservatively led Missouri House is committed to finding the best solution for Missouri. We will not jeopardize the best health outcomes for our neediest citizens nor will we risk the financial stability of our state by expanding a broken, unsustainable system to include 300,000 more people. We must fix Medicaid so that it provides access to quality health care for our most vulnerable citizens at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
Medicaid has proven itself inefficient, and many recipients receive lower quality care than individuals with private insurance or even those with no insurance at all. Many doctors refuse to take new Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates. And because the current system lacks competition, there is no incentive to improve care or control costs.

The failures of the current system make it imperative that we enact actual, meaningful reforms rather than slap a billion-dollar Band-Aid on a broken system. If we are going to do what is best for Missourians, we must transform our Medicaid system so that it provides high quality care to those who need it most. This means taking a commonsense, conservative approach and transforming our system into a good investment that results in healthy, productive citizens.

As we undertake the challenge of transforming Missouri’s Medicaid system, there are several key components that are critical to making the system the high-quality safety net it was meant to be:

Encourage free-market principles and competition to lower costs. Give Medicaid recipients the power to choose the plan that best fits their situation.

Incentivize preventative care.

Promote price transparency to allow recipients to shop for the most cost-effective medical solutions.

Demand less federal oversight and more flexibility. Empower our state to adapt the program to meet the needs of Missouri’s growing population and an ever-evolving health care industry.

Reaffirm Medicaid’s original purpose: to serve as a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens – seniors, children, and the disabled.

Medicaid was never meant to provide healthcare to everyone. Rather than expand the pool of recipients who receive increasingly diminished services, we need to transform Medicaid into a system that ably provides the highest quality care to those who need it most.
House Republicans are currently exploring a market-based, transformative approach to Medicaid. It incorporates many of the components listed above. The bill, HB 700, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes would move private insurers into a position of greater competition to provide coverage for low-income Missourians. It would empower Missourians, turning recipients into participants who actively make health care decisions and not wait until their health care needs require the emergency room. This system has the potential to vastly improve quality of care while containing costs and reaffirming Medicaid’s role as a true safety net.

HB 700 is not the final solution to the Medicaid crisis, but it is a solid starting point. From here we can work toward a sustainable Medicaid system that can continue to meet our state’s needs for years to come. We will continue to monitor the innovative solutions proposed by other states. Arkansas, for example, is pushing for a system that would enroll those newly eligible for Medicaid into the same private insurance plans available to individuals and small businesses.
Regardless of how we proceed, in the end we are dependent on whether the federal government will grant us a waiver that empowers our state to transform our Medicaid system. The White House structured Medicaid expansion as a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum when it comes to states getting federal dollars for the program. However, as the President sees more and more states refuse to accept the money along with all rigid federal requirements, we see a greater willingness to allow state governments flexibility to transform Medicaid as they see fit.

House Supports Military Veterans with HB 168

When veterans return home from service, they often make the decision to advance their education in support of their careers and families.  Unfortunately, our public school system has residency requirements that sometimes force our returning veterans to pay out-of-state tuition rates.  Representative Charlie Davis took note of this and proposed House Bill 168.

What Does It Do?

HB 168 waives residency requirements for all separating service members who are applying to our public four year institutions.  It also waives those same requirements for our 2 year colleges so that the service member will receive the “in-district” rate rather than the higher “out-district” rate. 

Why the Need for Statewide Legislation?

It’s simple.  Our veterans, should they choose to go back to the classroom, are going to go somewhere to gain that education.  If we penalize them, they will go elsewhere.  I’d rather our Missouri soldiers come home to a Missouri institution for higher education. 

Don’t Some Schools Already Do This?

Yes, they do.  In fact, the University of Missouri system and the University of Central Missouri have been true trailblazers when it comes to this public policy.  Other institutions have already made moves to implement this policy regardless of legislative action, and I applaud all these efforts. 

What’s Next?

The House finalized its version and it now awaits Senate action.  There is a similar Senate Bill, SB 117, which was approved by their body and now awaits our consideration.  If there are any differences, we will need to resolve them, but I am encouraged that we will work expeditiously to get this one in the books.

Consent Bills Move to the Senate

This past week the Missouri House moved through our consent bill calendar. Consent bills must be considered non-controversial, cost nothing to implement, and may not reduce revenues. While these bills may not bring overarching reform, they represent Missouri’s basic goals, values, and commitments. The following list is a small sampling of consent bills that have passed the House this session.

House Bills 79 and 81 are part of Missouri’s effort to bring international companies to our communities, instead of outsourcing American jobs to foreign workers. HCS HB 79 creates the Missouri International Business Advertisement Fund.  This fund will place ads in international business magazines, social media sites, and search engines in order to attract international companies to the state. HCS HB 81 creates the Missouri International Agriculture Exchange website. This website will set up a marketplace for Missouri agricultural sellers to promote their products abroad.

HB 334 exempts children working on family farms from child labor laws. Farming parents depend on their children to help out with the family business, and kids gain lifelong skills and responsibility. Agriculture is Missouri’s biggest industry and this measure reaffirms the legislature’s commitment to continue our tradition of family owned and operated farms.

HB 440 enables cottage food producers to keep on selling without health department inspections. This means that home-canned jelly and home-dried herbs, among other products, can continue to be sold at farmers’ markets, fairs, and to friends, without government intervention.

Currently, counties are only allowed to increase their budgets annually, but not decrease them.  HB 451 allows counties to amends their budgets during the middle of the fiscal year, if revenues decline dramatically. This allows counties to responsibly act in times of economic crises. Counties have no power other than that granted by the state, and so we want to grant them this power to keep themselves afloat in tough times.

HB 471 designates the third week of February as Engineer Awareness Week. During this week, citizens and various groups are encouraged to promote the engineering discipline to students, expand public recognition of the engineering profession, and celebrate engineering accomplishments.

HB 673 changes the name of Linn State Technical College to the State Technical College of Missouri. This reflects the college’s unique status as Missouri’s premier public institution of technical education, and recognizes its growth from a regional school to a statewide college.

HB 715 allows motorcyclists to use brake light modulators that vary the brightness of the lights for up to 5 seconds. This measure helps vehicles keep up with the latest technology and helps improve motorcycle operators’ and other drivers’ safety

Monday, April 1, 2013

Missouri's Budget Vlog

House Prioritizes Education Funding

This week, the House moved to pass another responsible, balanced budget – a promise we have made and continue to keep.  Even in tough economic times we were able to prioritize the state’s responsibilities, especially to our children.

Economists everywhere agree - an educated workforce is what will move our state’s economy forward.  This year we were able to budget a $65 million increase for the Foundation Formula, which provides basic aid to public schools.  All told, we allocated over $3 billion for our public elementary and secondary schools through the Formula.  Furthermore, we also allotted $2.5 million for Teach for America to bring talented, dedicated teachers to our urban areas and another $200,000 will go to the Missouri Charter School Commission.  But education does not end at high school. 

To ensure our workforce is prepared for tomorrow’s endeavors, each year we invest significant amounts into our institutions of higher education.  We have a number of campuses across the state, which each have been allocated the following funds:   

Community Colleges - $132,467,439

Linn State Technical College - $4,675,115

University of Central Missouri - $53,810,963

Southeast Missouri State University - $44,245,150

Missouri State University - $80,344,961

Lincoln University - $17,704,736

Truman State University - $40,414,289

Northwest Missouri State University - $30,023,979

Missouri Southern State University - $23,171,049

Missouri Western State University - $21,534,608

Harris-Stowe State University - $9,709,803

University of Missouri - $404,027,214

In further support of access to higher education, we appropriated a $1 million increase for the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program and a $2.4 million increase for Bright Flight scholarships.  While the federal government cut military tuition assistance scholarships in the misguided sequestration, we restored those scholarships for Missouri National Guard members.  

In the Missouri House, we are committed to make Missouri’s budget live within its means just like all Missourians do every day when we make decisions on our families’ finances.  Education was made our top priority in the state and this balanced budget has now moved to the Senate where it awaits committee hearings and floor debate.

House Refuses to Expose Budget to Budget Busting Medicaid Expansion Threat

Often, we look retrospectively at decisions we have made.  I am sure you can think of a time that you made a decision that was, in hindsight, not such a great one.  While speaking with constituents about government activity in Jefferson City or Washington, D.C., I often hear, “Why did they not see that coming?” Many times it is true; the government waits until it is too late to make the right decisions because of political consequences.  This week, your Republican-led legislature made a strong commitment to not giving in to the politically-expedient, easy path and made a decision that was in the public’s best long term interest.

Old Medicaid Expansion

The left, and those who do not take a long term, responsible economic view, have a grand, new idea on how to drastically diminish your kids’ and grandkids’ future earnings in the name of “doing the right thing” and “doing the smart thing”.  It is called Medicaid Expansion.  The idea has been to utilize more borrowed federal money to make promises to able-bodied adults that they will have “free” healthcare.  Never mind that Medicaid has poor health outcomes and trying to use a Medicaid card to gain access to a doctor’s office might as well be nothing more than handing someone a piece of plastic worth nothing. 

At the state level, Democrats have jumped for joy.  Governor Nixon and his liberal allies in the legislature think it is the greatest economic package they have ever seen.  So, for history’s sake, let us recall how many times on the campaign trail our governor proposed expanding Medicaid as the smart thing to do.  The answer is zero.  In fact, in each of Governor Nixon’s years in office before this one, he never once said that expanding Medicaid eligibility was the “smart” or “right” thing to do.  Apparently, it is only smart and right if the federal government pays for it with billions of dollars of more borrowed money.

A Budget Buster
Instead of being smart or right, this proposal actually adds billions to the federal deficit and exposes Missouri to more reliance on the federal government which, as a recent highly respected economic publication pointed out, places our triple-A credit rating in danger. The Democrats’ plan for Medicaid expansion has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of revenues available for future legislators to be able to appropriately fund long-term priorities like an educated citizenry.  This week, your Republican-led legislature was forward thinking.  Instead of giving in to the easy option of forsaking your future for today’s politically easy choices, we voted to be wise, prudent, and fiscally-responsible.  Those are mandates you sent us here to live up to.  Those are mandates we will uphold.    

The State’s Operating Budget

This week, the Republican-led legislature tackled the tough business of crafting the Fiscal Year 2014 operating budget.  I cannot expound enough how incredibly important this component of our jobs is.  In fact, it is the only constitutional duty that we, as elected members of the legislature, are required to perform.  The talk in Washington has been, of late, to try and convince Senate Majority Democrats to at least propose a budget, which they finally have, after over four years.  Here in Jefferson City, we do things differently.  For the last ten years, the Republican lead General Assembly has consistently and annually passed a true, balanced budget, every single year.  But, why is this so important?

You do not have to listen to the news too long to hear of some sort of new abuse on the part of some politician somewhere.  Recently, it was revealed that a county administrator in the state of California would be making nearly $500,000 a year in public money in retirement.  This is an example of blatant taxpayer abuse.  If your government asks a dollar from you, it should do so with the utmost care and then appropriate it only to fund those activities which are worthy of that request.

Taxpayers in this state contribute more than $7 billion to help finance noble goals like public education, economic advancement, and public safety.  Your Republican-led legislature takes the duty of being fiscally prudent incredibly seriously.  We have made it a priority to spend wisely, rein in spending on wasteful activities (even when those cuts are politically challenging), and help fund only what is necessary. 

It is easy to make the argument that the government should make certain promises at taxpayer expense – the left often does this to try and convince you that we do not already allocate enough funds aimed at helping the less fortunate.  But governments that have followed the “make promises now and worry about balancing the budget later” approach wind up like Illinois and California: essentially bankrupt, billions of dollars in debt, unable to reimburse Medicaid providers or provide essential services and with no responsible plan except “make the rich pay their fair share” (as if 50% or more of someone’s income is not enough).  I refuse to do that as a public servant.  I will not sell out your children’s future opportunities or diminish their potential for a political promise today.  And that is why balanced budgets are important.