Local schools are going to receive the most money they’ve ever been appropriated in the history of Missouri. You won’t often hear that story played. More than likely, you’ll hear that the legislature attempted to cut a medical program utilized by blind Missourians. State colleges and universities will receive level state funding in the midst of a recession, but you won’t hear that story either. Instead, you’ll hear the narrative that the legislature reduced funding for state-subsidized childcare (babysitting, as I call it because the “childcare” may occur in a child’s home with a family member receiving payment from the state and/or federal funds).
There are hundreds of examples of this kind of ‘spin’. They, however, aren’t always true examples of our failure. Our failure revolves around a dog, a butterfly, and jumping-jacks. What on earth do these have to do with governance and the role of the legislature in Missouri? The answer is: nothing. Unfortunately, though, they were the subject of several of the bills we debated in the General Assembly this year. Despite the House lending its continued support for a tax amnesty program, which would have afforded more than $70 million in additional revenues to the state and alleviate the burden of tax debt to many of our citizens and businesses, we debated naming a state dog, a state butterfly, and a state exercise. Why the Senate wouldn’t take up the tax amnesty legislation even for a single vote is beyond me.
House Administration estimates that on average each proposed bill costs the taxpayers $20,000 in associated expenses to operate the legislature. That doesn’t account for the actual impact of the legislation if it were to pass. So rather than adding another full-time position at Fulton State Hospital which is underserving our citizens with mental illness, we wasted $60,000 to name a state dog, a state butterfly, and a state exercise.
Since 2009 the recession has caused state revenues to fall over $1 billion. It is critically important that, given those circumstances, we are efficient in the General Assembly. We need to STOP wasting valuable legislative time and effort on meaningless (my words) and costly ideas. We should be crafting common-sense, well-planned legislation that removes barriers to market entry for our entrepreneurs, reduces burdens on job creators, and adds value to being a citizen in Missouri. Missourians deserve our best efforts.