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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • BILL LANT: Regular session about over

  • This week will be our last week of the regular session. For 20 weeks, we have held committee meetings, debated issues, formed special committees to investigate issues, heard opinions from constituents, business groups, special interest groups, lobbyists, and our friends and neighbors. Now it’s about over.
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  • This week will be our last week of the regular session. For 20 weeks, we have held committee meetings, debated issues, formed special committees to investigate issues, heard opinions from constituents, business groups, special interest groups, lobbyists, and our friends and neighbors. Now it’s about over.
    I think we have done some very good things for the state and for our constituents this session. There have been some issues, such as the education bill and the tax cut, that have generated more media coverage due to the governor’s position changes, but all in all, it has been a productive session so far.
    I say so far because there is the still the little issue on many of our bills getting the governor’s signature. He is still smarting a bit about being overridden on the tax bill. I’m still confused about that. When the bill failed last year, he assured the whole state that he would work with us to get an acceptable bill passed. We allowed his staff to extricate every objectionable part of last year’s bill and add their wording to the bill before we even sent it to committee.
    The resulting legislation was vetted by his legal staff and approved just as we had our legal department look it over and approve. No one had any objections about any of the legal descriptions period until we passed the bill. Then and only then did the governor raise an objection.
    I’m sorry to inform you that this is rotten politics at it’s very worst. We were able to override his veto and I’m happy to say Missourian’s will now enjoy their first tax reduction in nearly 100 years.
    Now the governor is raising a red flag on the criminal code revision. This project has been a bi-partisan effort for the past 10 years. Yep, I said it has been in the works for 10 years. Every lawyer and judge in the state has had some part in revising out of date portions of this code. It has been methodically taken apart and put back together one word at a time. Our Supreme Court was unanimous in applauding the efforts of the senators and representatives who have devoted their entire political careers to rewriting and updating our criminal code. Now, it is in danger of a veto for some obscure, political motivation. That’s not governing.
    The big news of course, is the passage of the budget. This week, we finished the process that touches every corner of Missouri — setting in place a state budget for Fiscal Year 2015. Normally, this is a fairly straightforward process that involves reconciling the priorities set by the general assembly and those of the governor.
    Page 2 of 2 - In normal times, several parties from the general assembly meet with staff from the governor’s office to come to a consensus on how much money we will have to spend. This consensus figure is the basis for the budget, and sets up everything that follows. This year was very different. There was no consensus agreed to with the governor’s office. Monumental increases and promises of new programs were based upon an insistence by the governor’s staff of figures that were substantially higher than ours.
    While there are many deserving programs, it is extremely unwise to spend based upon an overestimation of available funds. We cannot form a budget based on wishes and desires, but instead, one of realities and priorities. In order to cover all the bases, we created a surplus revenue fund in case the growth of revenue does exceed our expectations.
    This fund would be allocated to the foundation formula, performance funding for higher education, state parks and capitol improvement projects. This budget provides a $278 million increase in the foundation formula which makes it the largest it has been in state history.
    Does it contain every program we want? Of course not. What it does do is ensure that we continue to work towards building a Missouri that is ready for tomorrow’s challenges while ensuring that we don’t bankroll our budget with the tax revenues of our children like the federal budget does.
    Missouri has a sensible and balanced budget and we are proud of the job we’ve done. Stay tuned to see what the governor withholds from the budget to finance pet projects...
    More next week (The last week of session, or did I already mention that?) Until then, I am and remain in your service.
    Bill Lant represents the people of Newton and McDonald counties in the Missouri House of Representatives.

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