Each fall, for the last several years, the House budget staff, the Senate budget staff, the Governor's budget staff and the elected House and Senate members on their respective budget committees come up with their best guess estimate of what state tax revenue will be for the next fiscal year. Most years, these groups come up with a consensus estimate of tax revenue and then build the Missouri State budget to match the revenue. This year, the Governor thought the estimated tax revenue from the House and Senate was too low, so he built his budget on a higher tax revenue estimate. The House built their budget from their projections. The Governor promised more than the House thought it could deliver. The House budget did not have all the increase in spending that the Governor wanted. So we start out at odds with the Governor. Then in May, while in session the House and Senate passed the income tax reduction bill. The Governor vetoed the bill. The Legislative Body then overrode the Governor's Veto while still in session (but any tax reductions had to come only after a tax revenue increase the prior year).
When the recession hit, Missouri cut their budget. Revenue dropped, so spending fell, the budget has to be balanced. Every department took cuts. We had to look at what our priorities really were. Many did more with less. This was true for the private and public sector. Since summer revenue has started to grow again and so has spending.
This year with estimates of an increase in state tax revenue, the House built a budget with increases in several state departments and their programs. The House, set as priorities programs that promoted jobs, aided public education and provided safety nets for those most vulnerable. Pilot programs tailored for Missouri that could be more effective and less costly than current or federally proposed programs were also submitted. We looked and will continue to look at ways to provide needed programs that are effective and at the most efficient costs.
After session, the Governor vetoed 11 House bills, 22 Senate bills and over 100+ line items in the budget. He either vetoed or is withholding over 700 million dollars out of the 2015 budget. Why? He says because of the income tax reduction bill we passed this year. He claims the income tax reduction will cause a short fall in tax revenue. The question is how? The tax cut reduction bill has a Safe Guard built in
that states before any income tax reduction can happen, tax revenue has to increase by $150 million dollars the prior year. Some say this will cost the state $1 billion dollars in lost tax revenue. If the state does not get this $1 billion dollars in income taxes, where is it? Seems to me, it would be in the hands of the ones that earned it in the private sector. Is that bad? That would be a pretty good shot in the arm for our Missouri economy to grow, therefore creates jobs and increases future revenue.
Now look at what the Governor vetoed (or wanted to cut funding). In the budget line item he vetoed funding for; reading instruction, math and science tutoring, independent living centers, sheltered workshops, UMLS biotech programs (jobs,) child advocate programs, job development program, forensic exam child abuse, crime labs, autistic programs, Alzheimer' programs, energy assistance, victims of sexual assault programs, foster parent training, rural health clinic pilot dental program. This is just a few of the 100+ items.
Why is he targeting these programs? The Legislative Body will be criticized by some for increase in spending, but we are trying to prioritize spending your money so as to do the best good for our state and our citizens.
I will try to keep you informed and I continue to pray daily for the Lord's guidance in making decisions as your State Representative. As always I welcome and appreciate your help, support, contacts and opinions. Please pray for me, the Legislative Body, and pray to preserve our Freedoms.
Thank you for reading this Capitol Report. If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving my Capitol Report, please have them e-mail Dave.Muntzel@house.mo.gov or call 573-751-0169.
Finally, if we can ever be of any assistance to you do not hesitate to contact us at 573-751-0169 or you can reach my assistant, June, at email@example.com. If you are ever near Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit my Capitol office Room 201E. It is my pleasure to represent the good people of the 48th District.