By Rep. Todd Richardson, District 154
The Missouri General Assembly wrapped up the 2012 legislative session last Friday bringing an end to a challenging, yet productive year in the legislature. This will be the first of a three-part end of session report. In this report, I will focus on the state budget. The second report will focus on other notable legislation to pass the General Assembly and the third installment will focus on legislation I sponsored and passed this year. If you have questions about any specific piece of legislation, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
The Missouri Legislature has only one constitutional duty that must be fulfilled each year – to pass a budget for our state. Missouri’s budget is made up of 13 separate bills which set specific spending limits for every area of state government. I am proud to report that the Legislature passed a balanced budget without raising taxes.
States across this country are faced with budget shortfalls on an unprecedented scale. Missouri is no different. We started the year with a shortfall of more than $500 million. Necessary decisions made to balance a budget are not always easy, or popular. However these difficult decisions preserve the fiscal stability of our state and avoid the insanity we see with spending in Washington, D.C.
The legislature was able to balance the budget by making cuts to personnel, making Medicaid more efficient by switching coverage for some prescription drugs to generic alternatives, and removing waste that is created by giving certain state departments excess spending authority. In doing so we were able to protect the state’s core functions and fully fund our shared priorities.
Further state restructuring and programmatic changes will be needed to move Missouri through this current financial crisis. Continuing work by the House Appropriations Committees and by the Interim Committee on Budget Transparency will enable this process to remain fluid and will allow members the needed knowledge of state services to continue to make sound fiscal decisions.
It has been an honor serving you in Jefferson City over the past two years. If you have questions about this year’s budget or any matter affecting state government please contact my office.
If we can ever be of any assistance to you at your state’s Capitol, do not hesitate to contact us at: 573-751-4039 or you can reach Cindy [Martin, legislative assistant]: Cindy.Martin@house.mo.gov
Until our next update, I am, and remain, in your service.