Speech pathologist students visited the capitol this week. Stephanie Heinzler and Ryan So, both from Warrensburg, joined the group. (Contributed image)
Again, we have had very busy week at the Capitol.
Bills from Your Representative
This week I had quite a bit of bill activity. I previously presented HB 1553 in support of the Marshall City Library. It is now moving to the Rules Committee. HCR 13, the resolution in favor of retaining the A-10 mission at Whiteman Air Force Base, passed through the Rules Committee and is headed to the House floor for a vote. Finally, Representative Hoskins presented HB 1456 and I presented HB 1547 to the Tourism Committee. These are identical bills designating Old Drum as the state historical dog, and Jim as the state "wonder" dog. All of these bills are progressing through the process very nicely.
The House passed out HJR 72 which will restrict when the governor can withhold money. The constitutional amendment restricts the governor to estimating sources of revenue that are available at the time of the budget estimate.
In other words, the governor cannot include revenues for new taxes, fees, or programs that would require future action by the legislature. Only known sources of revenue can be included. Also, when the governor withholds money, the legislature must be notified. If withholdings are enacted, the legislature would have the right of review and override.
HJR 72 is a necessary measure as the governor has been withholding money, including education money, each year of his tenure. The mechanism is a tool to be used when the revenue is not meeting estimates, not a tool to direct funds without the approval of the General Assembly. A primary charge of the legislature is to pass a budget and allocate money, and this constitutional provision will strengthen that function. The legislature functions as the stewards of the taxpayers' money, and we take this duty very seriously. If HJR 72 passes the Senate, it will go to voters for approval.
More Your Money
I am continually baffled by those in government who argue as if your money belongs to them. Certainly some taxes are necessary to support vital needs and services, but the mentality that we should all hand over large sums of our money to others who will make decisions about where it goes without our input is beyond comprehension. Last summer we had a one-sided argument about this over HB 253.
The governor objected to HB 253 on several fronts including that it took money away from education. HBs 1253 and 1297 contain many provisions that address the concerns of the governor and the education community.
Here's how the bill works: if Missouri's revenues were equal to or greater than 2012 levels, the percentage of business income that is taxed would fall to 90%, and the corporate tax rate would decline from 6.25% to 5.625% for the next year. If revenue levels continued to remain consistent or increase, the amount of business income taxed would decrease to 50%, and the corporate tax rate would be reduced to 3.125% through incremental cuts over several years. The annual cuts would not take place if the state took in less revenue than it did in 2012, so Missouri would continue to be able to fund its most essential obligations, including education and healthcare for the disabled.
A funny thing about tax cuts and our governor, although he opposes giving smaller businesses the ability to retain more of their money and thereby purchase more supplies, production capital, or hire more workers, he is more than willing to give billions to large corporations. This philosophy certainly needs explanation because it is very contradictory in practice. HBs 1253 and 1297 protect state revenues and small business owners.
Again, I was delighted to have many visitors this week. Among the visitors were the Pettis County Extension Service, the Speech-Language-Hearing Association and students, as well as a job shadow from Warrensburg, Ms. Rachel Haag. It was my pleasure to meet with all these visitors, and helpers, this week.
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 and Missouri. 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 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.