Review of the State of the State Address
— King Solomon
The Missouri Senate began its week by gathering with members of the House of Representatives to listen to the governor’s annual State of the State address. This is the time the governor presents his recommendations regarding the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. We all want the best for the people of our state, but I cannot agree with the governor’s proposal, and implementing the recommendations we heard on Monday would cause irreparable damage to our state.
My assessment is that the governor said he is happy with the progress Missouri has made during his first four years in office, and has no intention of changing course. It was “spend more money doing the same things.” Over the last four years, we have seen Missouri languish in everything from employment to education. We’ve lost jobs and population to neighboring states precipitating the loss of one of our congressional districts and delegates.
Few in either political party envy Gov. Nixon’s dilemma. He was handed devastating social and economic policies by Washington, D.C. that make it harder for families, businesses, and workers to survive. For a governor of the minority party, the politics have been challenging: does he support failed federal policies like “stimulus,” income redistribution, expansion of food stamps, and socialized medicine, or does he push back and risk political backlash from his own political party? Does he continue to join Washington, D.C. in promoting more dependency on government, rather than independence of government? Will he risk alienating his own party with free market policies that encourage individual liberty and responsibility, as well as economic freedom? Does he continue to build into Missouri’s budget federal dollars and ignore the truth that it is really just federal debt?
The governor advocated for expanding Medicaid to make more Missourians dependent on government and ignored the harmful effects of the federal health care law that created this proposal. There are federal incentives until 2017; however, this is not “free” money, and how much do you trust a federal government that is already more than $14 trillion in debt? Our nation is in a financial emergency and the federal government is trying to lure the states into accepting the invisible money, dragging our country even deeper in debt. Missouri would eventually be required to take over a portion of the cost of the expansion — a cost that would amount to millions out of taxpayers’ wallets. Have you looked at your paycheck this year and adjusted your budget to the increases in your taxes? Why not design policies to transition out of welfare and move our state forward? That requires engaging free-market forces like eliminating taxes on income, freeing workers to choose whether to belong to unions, and reining in bureaucracies like the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The governor also touted increased funding for early childhood, K-12, and higher education. Last year, his plan for the FY 2013 budget would have slashed funding for higher education by $89 million — this was the third time the governor proposed cuts to higher education. The Legislature stepped in and was able to allocate $65.9 million in reduced state spending to restore the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education, maintaining the same level of funding from the previous fiscal year. In the end, the governor withheld nearly $9 million from higher education.
Furthermore, the governor’s budget proposal depends on the Missouri Legislature passing numerous pieces of legislation. If lawmakers do not agree upon a measure and these bills don’t become law, the governor’s budget proposal would collapse. As highlighted in an article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the governor’s budget depends upon: $56.6 million from legislation regarding Missouri’s “circuit breaker” tax credit (HB 192); $51.8 million from a tax amnesty proposal (HB 55); and, of course, we can’t forget the $46.6 million his budget plan relies on from the expansion of Medicaid.
Missourians do not appear to me to be more free or prosperous than four years ago. Promises of more of the same promises the same results, and I, for one, do not believe government can ignore the laws of economics or the lessons of history and be successful. In the months ahead, my hope and prayer is that the governor will be present in our efforts to create jobs, provide incentives for businesses to locate to Missouri, and ensure our children have a successful academic career.
I appreciate you reading this Legislative Report, and please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions.
Thank you and God bless.