This week the governor presented his budget proposals in his State of the State address. Requests for many worthwhile programs were presented, but the source of funding is questionable.
Some of the increases include:
--An additional $18 million for Early Childhood Education
--Over $108 million for K-12 education
--$34 million for Higher Education
--An additional $1 million for A+ scholarships
--$6 million for tourism
--$3.9 million for ports and transportation
--$7 million for the arts
--$27.5 million for a 2 percent salary increase for state employees.
Again, many worthy causes, but the problem is paying for the increases.
The governor's additional money in the budget is based on four pieces of legislation that have not passed the General Assembly. Three of the four would amount to tax increases; the other is calculated on money from the federal government to expand Medicaid. In all, the governor still leaves a gap of $1.58 billion after all is said and done.
This is the largest budget ever proposed for the state, and I am convinced that this approach is unworkable. Rosie scenarios in this economy are not realistic or fair to Missouri taxpayers. We need to be honest about what revenue is expected, and what can be paid out. Taxpayers are held in an unfair position if the proposed tax increases are passed. Programs are held in an unfair position if monies are promised that cannot be delivered. Even worse, I believe, is borrowing that money and pushing increasing bills onto future taxpayers.
The Medicaid expansion as proposed by the governor would not be money paid in by Missouri taxpayers and then paid back to us. This scenario is bad enough in and of itself: it is sending our own tax money to Washington to have the federal government return it with all sorts of strings. Even worse is that a significant portion of this will be borrowed, and much of that borrowing comes from China. Our federal debt already exceeds $16.5 trillion. Do we really wish to push that mountain above $20 trillion? What kind of legacy does that leave for the next two or three generations? In fact, I fear we will not make it that far before we start feeling the adverse effects.
As your state representative and a member of the Education Appropriations Committee, I will work to be realistic about budgeting. I will also do my best to fairly divide that budget so that all students in Missouri will benefit and taxpayers will receive value for their tax dollars. No matter how these numbers are finally resolved, I will work to ensure that your dollars are being put to their best use.
Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me be email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live and work.