Week 11 - April 5
I decided to take a week off from writing this report over the Legislative Spring Break. Since we weren’t at the Capitol, no progress on legislation was made. However, I took the opportunity to visit with constituents, businesses, and groups all across the District to learn more about issues confronting our area and what topics are most important to the people of the region.
Department of Revenue
Everywhere I go and every day at the Office people ask me for an update on the Dept. of Revenue and the issues surrounding the scanning and maintaining of personal documents. The House and Senate both have investigation committees that have interviewed the Director. A sub poena was filed by Senator Schaeffer to try and receive more information from the Department related to their actions, the federal government, and Real ID. Representative Richardson sponsored an amendment, which I supported, that stripped from the Departments Budget the money being used to scan and transfer this documentation. Needless to say, we are working very hard to protect the privacy and 2nd Amendment rights of all Missourians. Like everything else, it is a process. Rest assured we are working to find a solution and see that proper actions are taken for all involved.
The consensus among most of the legislators in the House is that we are not opposed to expanding Medicaid if, and only if, the Governor and Federal Government grant us a waiver allowing us to make changes to the program to fix some of the many problems within it. This is a very complicated issue that we are working very hard on. In 2010 and again in 2012 voters of this state rejected implementing Obamacare. This Medicaid expansion is just Stage 1 implementation of the Obamacare mandate. That being said, we realize we are going to have to work with the Federal Government on this now that President Obama has won re-election to see that it is handled in the best way possible for our state. That means making changes to ensure, above all else, we can afford it! Our Caucus held a meeting with the Governor this week to discuss potential changes. The program must become self-sustaining—the Federal dollars won’t be there as a crutch forever.
This week the House passed our final version of the Budget that is now over at the Senate. I am very proud of the work we did to secure that our State’s vital programs are adequately funded while still maintaining a balanced budget. The importance of our State balancing its budget each year cannot be overlooked. Our Nation and several states are experiencing tough economic times due to an unbalanced budget and a severe spending problem. Here in Missouri we have fought hard to balance our budget and maintain a great AAA credit rating. These factors help make Missouri competitive when businesses are looking to settle down in a state.
Even in tough budget times we were able to find or keep money for:
• $65m Increase for the Foundation Formula.
• Increased funding for K-12 Education by $100,000,000
• $2.4m increase for Bright Flight scholarships.
• $2.5m for Teaching programs in Urban Areas (Teach for America).
• Restored sequestration cuts to Missouri National Guard tuition assistance scholarships.
• An across the board pay raise for every State employee, $500 increase starting Jan 1 2014.
• $200k for Missouri Charter School Commission.
• Cut $85k from Department of Revenue for scanning and retention of personal documents.
• $50k for WWI Memorial and Museum.
• Cut $178k and 4 FTE for prevailing wage inspectors from Department of Labor.
• Restored Governor’s $1.5m cut to the Cyber Crimes Task Force.
• $1m for STL prisoner re-entry program that reduces recidivism rates and violent crimes.
• $13.8m for Developmentally Disabled provider rate restructuring in Dept. of Mental Health.
• $1/Hour increase for Home and Community Based Services providers.
HB 412: Increases amount allocated for Livestock Feed and Crop Loans
HB 586: The right of Missourians to hold and participate in Rodeos
HB 451: Grants County Commissions the ability to adjust their Budget (twice per fiscal year)
As always, thank you for allowing me to serve the people of the 40th District. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns you might have. I can be reached by phone at 573-751-4028 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org