This is the last capitol report before the election on November 4th, this Tuesday! Therefore, this week's Capitol Report examines Amendment 10. The General Assembly placed this amendment on the ballot to provide an additional check on gubernatorial power over the budget. As always, let's begin with a description of measure.
Approved by the General Assembly as HJR 72, the proposed constitutional amendment provides the legislature with oversight of the governor's decisions to withhold or restrict funding. If approved by voters, it will allow the legislature to override decisions made by the governor to restrict funding. The authority would work in much the same way as the ability the legislature has to override a gubernatorial veto. It would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate in order for the funding restrictions to be overturned. The measure also would require the governor to pay the public debt and prevent the governor from proposing a state budget based on legislation that has not yet passed into law.
Official Ballot Title
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governor's decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?
State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.
Fair Ballot Language
A "yes" vote will amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature. This amendment prohibits the governor from reducing funding passed by the general assembly without receiving legislative consent, and provides certain other restrictions on the governor's ability to increase or decrease line items in the budget. This amendment further prohibits the governor from proposing a budget that relies on revenue from legislation that has not yet passed in the General Assembly.
A "no" vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature.
My Personal Point of View
The primary responsibility of the General Assembly is the state budget. It is a priority item translating each year into the first 13 bills filed in the House. Because the Missouri legislature is in session only part of the year, the governor has the power to withhold appropriations when incoming revenue is expected to be short of projections. This is part of the balanced budget process. In the past, governors have typically gone to the last quarter, estimated the shortfall, and then applied a percentage of withholding across the board treating all state agencies the same. This proved to be a fair system, but things have changed.
Our current governor has been withholding money every year for vital state services, even when there has not been a shortage of income for the state. Education has suffered every single year from the withholdings by this governor, and other sensitive areas have included mental health and local government. These withholdings have always resulted from his opposition to some legislation pending in the legislature, a purpose for which the executive power was never intended.
Amendment 10 brings the intended balance of power back to our state government. As we all learned in school, the legislature makes the laws, the executive enforces the laws, and the courts interpret the laws. Governor Nixon has changed these roles and is attempting to legislate through the power of the purse. This amendment will rightfully return that power to the legislature where it belongs and has served our form of government for so long and so well. The bar is still high for an override, but the ability to override will return us to a system of checks and balances so vital in our governmental system.
Be certain to vote on Tuesday!
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 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working me to make Missouri a great place to live.