Governor Jay Nixon delivered the 2010 State of the State address this week to the General Assembly. During this speech, he focused on the importance of job creation, small business-friendly policies, and bringing 21st Century jobs to the state. I agreed with many of the points the governor laid out in his address, but I did find several problems concerning his budget proposal, which was balanced using assumed federal funding that hasn’t been approved by Congress. We have to make sure that Missouri stands on firm financial ground despite our economic troubles.
Missouri is facing lower than expected revenues and historic budget shortfalls. The only reason why Missouri has stronger financial footing than many other states in the nation is that we continue to rely on the sound fiscal policies we have put in place in the past. We have to increase efficiency in state government and tighten our belts to make every dollar count. Some of the federal funding that the governor based his budget plan on isn’t even guaranteed—it is dependent on an additional $300 million extension on federal stabilization funding. Missouri’s budget should be based on the money that we have now in our accounts, not the funding we may receive down the road.
I am also very concerned that the budget proposed by the governor does not fully fund this year’s phase-in of the foundation formula, which funds our public schools. The proposal is $87 million short on classroom funding. This opens our state up for a lawsuit from Missouri public schools, which would actually increase costs for the state as we try to defend the cut in funding. The courts could even call for a tax increase to fully fund the formula, which is unacceptable. Education remains a top budget priority for the Legislature, and we will work to make sure that we fund our K-12 classrooms as promised.
Spurring job creation, protecting taxpayers, and keeping education a top priority are goals that must dominate our work during the 2010 legislative session. It is our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget, and we must do so in a fiscally responsible way. The governor gave a well crafted and well delivered speech that contained much that I agree with. It is my hope that the General Assembly can work together with the governor to meet shared goals and get our economy back on track.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Nodler: Governor's budget plans fall short
In his weekly report, Sen. Gary Nodler takes issues with some parts of Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address.