October is here: football is in full swing and homecomings will be plentiful. Both of Missouri's Major League baseball teams are in the playoffs. Lots of people are out doing those outdoor jobs that must be done before the weather turns cold. There are also plenty of other fun outdoor activities, so enjoy!
House Budget Leaders Urge Caution with Governor's Higher Education Spending Plan
Once again, the governor and the Missouri legislature do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to the state budget. The governor recently proposed a plan to increase funding for Missouri's institutions of higher learning, which appears to be good news. However, House budget leaders urged a more cautious approach as the state waits to see if revenues will be sufficient to afford such an increase. Both House Budget Chairman Tom Flanigan and Vice Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick said the Missouri House is committed to supporting higher education, but will take a wait and see approach to increased funding until it is clear that revenues will increase sufficiently. Nixon's proposal calls for a $55.7 million increase in funding for higher education in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget that begins July 1, 2016. In exchange, colleges and universities would freeze tuition so that Missouri families do not pay more for their kids to go to school. If put into effect, the 6% increase would bring total funding for higher education to approximately $1 billion in general revenue funds. House Budget leaders Flanigan and Fitzpatrick cautioned that the state's revenue numbers have not increased at a pace that warrants such significant funding increases. They stressed that the state must have enough money to continue to meet its funding obligations to other commitments such as elementary and secondary education, and health care. This is the beginning of a long budgetary process that will end the beginning of May.
Human Trafficking Task Force to Hold Public Hearings around the State
A group of Missouri state legislators and citizens working together to combat the rapidly-growing criminal industry of human trafficking will begin holding public hearings around the state. The Human Trafficking Task force will take public testimony on the issue during a series of hearings in October in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield.
The task force was created by legislation sponsored by the General Assembly during the 2015 session. The group's mission is to raise awareness of the human trafficking problem in Missouri and provide organizations and agencies that enforce human trafficking laws and assist victims with a central place to share information. The task force is charged with reporting a summary of its activities and making any recommendations for legislation to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2017.
The human trafficking industry generates $150 billion in annual profits throughout the world. The criminal industry makes its profits on the backs of an estimated 21 million victims, including 5.5 million children. The task force is part of an effort by the state to take a more active role to help the dozens of nonprofit organizations that are already diligently working to shut down the human trafficking industry. The chairman of the committee hopes to see a strong turnout at the hearings from people who have stories and suggestions to share that can help the task force make policy recommendations that will prevent trafficking crimes in the future.
The task force is set for noon hearings at the following locations:
· October 8 at the Kansas City Chamber Board Room in Union Station
· October 13 at BJC Children's Hospital, St. Louis
· October 28 at the Springfield Chamber, Bill Foster North Meeting Room