When the governor presented his budget to the Missouri General Assembly last month, a lot of questions were left unanswered. One thing is certain: there are 280,000 Missourians unemployed right now and this must be the focus in 2011.
For the third year in a row, Missouri’s budget faces a shortfall. Depending on who you talk to, it is anywhere between $300 million and $700 million. We had so-called stimulus money as a part of the state budget for the past two years. Those funds are gone. Fortunately, we are one of only a handful of states in a solid financial position to weather the storm.
None of the three budgets this governor has submitted have been balanced; and projections for Fiscal Year 2012 are no different. This year’s budget hinges on $45 million in special legislation that will require passage. In addition, the governor’s proposal banks on $209 million in federal Medicaid reimbursements; $4.5 million from capping or cutting tax credit programs; $67.4 million from Medicaid cost containment; $25.6 million from debt collections by the Missouri Department of Revenue; and $20 million in a tax amnesty plan. I pray these all come together to work in our favor, but with $36 million in increased funding requested, it will be quite a challenge.
The Legislature is putting forward a plan to put Missouri back to work by getting out of the way. Preparing a skilled workforce through education is important, but we are also focused on reducing the size of government to appropriate levels. We want to cap franchise taxes, restore balance to Missouri’s employment laws and fix bad judicial decisions in the workers’ compensation system. If we can move forward on issues that help Missouri’s working families and those that employ them, prosperity will soon follow.
Sadly, the governor’s jobs bill from 2009 did not deliver. While it is good to see Ford keep its promise — and nearly 3,000 jobs in Missouri — that is a drop in the bucket compared to the 280,000 who are unemployed. Currently, one of every six Missourians is receiving food stamps; the number of Missourians who want to work full-time, but have to settle for part-time jobs, has doubled in the past two years; and the state has lost more than 104,000 jobs since June 2008.
We have a very tough job ahead of us in the Legislature and there is no simple solution. Cuts will have to be made everywhere. Our focus is on jobs and keeping education fully-funded. Over the next three months, we will be dealing with the budget for FY 2012.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Stouffer: Senate looking to put Missouri back to work
In his latest report, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, says the Senate is working on a plan to put Missouri back to work: