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Saying good-byePosted Thursday, December 13, 2012, at 11:49 AM
It may be hard to believe, but eight years have passed since I was first elected to the Missouri Senate, and this means my time in these hallowed halls is coming to an end. This will be my final column.
We have seen a lot of ups and downs since January 2005. When I first started, Missouri's budget totaled $19.2 billion, and our state was on a path that included low taxes and sound fiscal policy that enabled us to surplus funds for the first time in a long time. Under the governor's leadership, at the time, we were adding jobs and right-sizing government.
Unfortunately, things began to change in 2008. The budget increased to $22.4 billion and we were faced with budget deficits between $500 million and $700 million. The good news is, we have a balanced budget amendment in Missouri, which means we have had to make some of the toughest decisions ever made by state lawmakers. Unfortunately, we are one of the slowest states to recover from the recession.
Throughout my time in the Legislature, we have also seen a great deal of changes to transportation. Amendment 3, which was passed by voters in 2004, enabled MoDOT to fix many of the roads throughout Missouri. Just this year, MoDOT's "Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program" wrapped up approximately a year and a half early. This program fixed some 800 bridges in Missouri.
I cannot say enough good things about our state's transportation department. They have taken the lead, in terms of using available funding in the best ways possible. Thanks to the folks there, my time chairing the Senate Transportation Committee was a lot easier.
Other legislation we were able to pass included allowing more seniors to choose assisted living over skilled care nursing homes, the Hunting Heritage and Preservation Act, and Voter ID. Unfortunately, the latter was vetoed by the governor.
Most of all, Sue Ellen and I want to thank you for your kind words, advice and prayers over the last eight years. I also want to thank Aaron Baker and Heidi Kolkmeyer, my two staff members who served throughout my entire term.
With your help, I have been able to do the best job I could for the 21st Senatorial District. It has been a true pleasure, and I look forward to seeing you in my new role as "Citizen Stouffer." Thank you and may God bless you.
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Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, represented the 21st district in the Missouri Senate until January 2013, when he left after reaching established term limits. He is a life-long resident of Saline County, a farmer and small business owner. He and his wife, Sue Ellen, live on their family farm in Napton. He was the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight. He served on a number of other committees, including Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources; Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy & the Environment; Financial & Governmental Organizations & Elections; Joint Interim Committee on School Accreditation; Missouri Alternative Fuels Commission; Missouri Civil Air Patrol; Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission; Missouri Senior RX Commission; Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force; Coordinating Council on Special Transportation; and Midwestern Interstate passage Rail Compact Commission.
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