This week the Missouri House of Representatives passed the bills that comprise our annual budget: this is our primary constitutional duty as a body. We had a lively debate about Medicaid expansion during the discussions, but ultimately the bills we passed are without this massive explosion of government spending. As legislators, we understand that changes are coming, but that we have a responsibility to you as taxpayers to protect your future prosperity. Also, we have a constitutional duty to balance the state budget. Therefore, we are searching for options that will address the new realities of health care reform, but will protect Missourians from hyper-inflating tax bills.
Interestingly enough, a proposal came out of Arkansas this week that has caught the attention of those concerned about the cost of Medicaid expansion. The Arkansas Plan, as it quickly became known, takes federal money available for state health care reform and turns it immediately into the forthcoming insurance exchange system to help those who will be without coverage in the near future. This has promise as a reasonable approach.
I can attest to you that the members of the Missouri General Assembly are aware that changes are ahead in health care. We are concerned about providing sufficient health care for all, rural and urban, and are searching for responsible ways of delivering this care. The Arkansas Plan holds some promise for such a design. It could provide a means of obtaining health care coverage without saddling Missouri taxpayers with skyrocketing costs. If this plan holds such promise, it will receive a great deal of scrutiny from me and other representatives.
In other budget highlights, we secured funding for the following areas:
* $65 million increase for the Foundation Formula.
* $2.4 million increase for Bright Flight scholarships to keep good Missouri students in Missouri colleges.
* $1 million increase for Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program.
* Restored sequestration cuts to Missouri National Guard tuition assistance scholarships.
* $200,000 for Missouri Charter School Commission.
* Cut $85,000 from Department of Revenue for scanning and retention of personal documents.
* Full funding for Missouri Arts Council and other cultural partners.
* $50,000 for WWI National Memorial and Museum in Kansas City (the centennial of the Great War is next year).
* Restored Governor's $1.5 million cut to the Cyber Crimes Task Force.
* $13.8 million for developmentally disabled provider rate restructuring in Department of Mental Health.
* $1/Hour increase for Home and Community Based Services providers.
You can see in this short list that education and public health and safety is a priority for your representatives.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. 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.
Serving the Constituents of the 51st District