“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A Society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
– Milton Friedman
Missouri’s new governor’s State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature was delivered on Tuesday of this week. One difference from the typical address to the Legislature was the absence of a budget proposal. The budget is expected later than is tradition. One reason is the challenge of learning the budget process while dealing with countless appointments, an emergency ice storm and demands on the governor’s time that increase daily. This year’s budget offers uncommon challenges and opportunities – reflections of the lagging-behind condition of Missouri’s economy.
I have high expectations that Governor Eric Greitens’ leadership and a significant shift in state policies will produce new levels of prosperity. But while we are waiting, what some characterize as a fiscal crisis is being viewed by a group of fiscally conservative legislators as a divinely timed opportunity. We cannot spend what we do not have, and both of the House and Senate can choose to see this year’s state budget as a prime opportunity to carefully spend each dollar by rooting out waste and focusing on the biggest bang for the buck. We must also begin a new pattern of forecasting and appropriating that supports such a philosophy.
The absence of budget numbers did not prevent our new governor from challenging the threats to liberty on several fronts. Those fronts included calling for advancements in worker freedom – he promised to work for Right to Work as well as project labor agreement and prevailing wage reforms. Bills have been advancing quickly through both the House and the Senate.
The governor’s plans for education include new liberties for parents, students, and teachers. Those freedoms will come in the form of parental options. The governor’s reforms, if enacted, will free families from the chains of zip codes and tight family budgets so parents can choose the learning environment that best suits their son’s or daughter’s needs. Education Savings Accounts, Charter Schools, and Virtual education will all contribute to this advance in liberty. The governor also seemed to be calling for increased salaries for the most effective teachers and for the shift of funding to the classrooms rather than overhead and administration.
Another proposal that represents a major advance in liberty was Gov. Greitens’ commitment to eliminate unnecessary and ineffective regulations on businesses and individuals. Akin to regulatory reform was his call for major “tort reform.” Missouri has the costly reputation of being the worst judicial environment in the union for business. Attorneys take extraordinary legal steps to ensure their lawsuits are heard in Missouri where excessive awards are the norm, and our courts have become a magnet for every imaginable personal injury lawsuit.
I hope you are as encouraged as I am about Missouri’s new direction. We have a new administration that seems resolute in their commitment to empower you, the people, rather than government officials and bureaucrats – who seem to take the oath of office seriously and wants to protect your liberty, not tell you what to do. You can read the full text of the governor’s address to the legislature here: www.governor.mo.gov/news/speeches/2017-state-state-address.
Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.