As we return to Jefferson City this week, the top priority for the Missouri House will be the budget. State legislators have always taken very seriously the budgeting process, working hard to use Missouri taxpayer's money wisely.
The only constitutional requirement made of each session of the General Assembly is to pass a balanced state budget. With our national economic recession and Washington's uncertain policies, budgeting on the state level has become more difficult. However, Missouri's General Assembly has led the way, balancing the state budget and making cuts in spending when necessary, while not raising taxes on Missourians. Our state has maintained a triple-A rating, one of only seven states in the nation to do so. Basically, this means that while Missouri does have its financial challenges, overall, we are conducting our state's economic business in a responsible manner.
When visiting with constituents this past week on a number of state issues, it became obvious that the concern of most folks was not so much state happenings, as is the overall direction of our federal government. Several concerns that have been voiced to me deal with the national debt and federal spending, ObamaCare, and gun regulation.
The President hasn't submitted a budget to Congress in four years and the United States Senate hasn't passed a budget in four years. The national debt continues to grow while some in Washington debate whether we have a spending problem. Then there is sequestration.
Sequestration—across-the-board cuts to government agencies—went into effect March 1. These cuts are to be a fifty-fifty split between national defense (military) and domestic discretionary spending and are to reduce federal spending by a total of $1.2 trillion over a period of 10 years. We need to keep in mind that with sequestration, the federal government isn't going to reduce its spending. Their spending is on course to reach $6 trillion by 2023, growing at just under 70 percent from today's $3.6 trillion.
The truth is that sequestration doesn't cut federal spending at all; it only reduces the projected baseline increase. There is an automatic built-in spending increase of 8 percent each year. Sequestration will only slow the growth in federal spending and reduce this year's built-in automatic spending increase by a little over 2 percent. To put all this into perspective, the federal government borrows $85 billion every 28 days, or out of every one dollar we spend, we borrow 46 cents.
Another concern on people's minds is ObamaCare and its pending implementation. This healthcare act is set to be fully implemented in 2014. One thing we are dealing with on the state level is the possible massive Medicaid expansion. An additional 300,000 Missourians will be eligible for Medicaid under ObamaCare, and concern is being expressed as to who will fund it. Even though many in Missouri do not agree with this program, it was passed into law by Congress and upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Its impact on our state's financial health remains to be seen, because they are still writing the act. However, ObamaCare, like most federal programs, will be extremely costly.
Page 2 of 2 - Another topic of interest expressed by constituents is the on-going debate about federal gun control, with its possible accompanying regulations and requirements. Concerns are that the federal government may pass legislation that will attempt to control, regulate, or confiscate guns, beginning with assault weapons, but then moving on to handguns. Many in our state, as well as in our nation, are worried that our Second Amendment rights could be radically altered or completely taken away.
There are questions about the direction in which our nation is headed. Some of those questions involve the over-reaching and unsustainable growth of the federal government, state's rights versus the federal law, and does federal law always supersede state law?
If I can be of help to you with these or any other state matters, please do not hesitate to contact me by one of the following means:
Mail: Bill Reiboldt, Office 235-BB, State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101. Telephone: (573) 751-9781. Personal cell phone: 417-456-0441. Email: email@example.com. My website is www.billreiboldt.com
Find me on Facebook at facebook.com/morepbill or follow me on Twitter @MORepBill.
Bill Reiboldt represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives.