Monday, May 12, 2008

Speaker praises final budget

In his latest capitol report, Speaker of the House Rod Jetton praised the final budget passed during his tenure:

We are down to our final week for the 2008 session and there is a lot going on in the Capitol. We are working hard to debate and vote on key legislation as we hurry to finish all business of the House by May 16th.

Last week we worked hard to finish the state's budget and I am proud of the accomplishments of the Budget Committee. We have just passed a balanced budget that saw us put extra money into the Reserve Operating Fund of the state. Right now there are 37 states in the nation that are facing budget shortfalls and problems that are going to call for cuts in their budget. Neighboring states like Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky all are being forced to make tough decisions on how to shrink their budgets due to decreased revenues caused by economic downturn.

However, Missouri is not one of those 37 states facing budget problems. We are one of the few states that actually has a budget not requiring spending cuts to be balanced. In fact we were able to increase funds for education, MO Healthnet, and higher education while other states were cutting those budgets.

Part of the reason why Missouri has such a strong budget is due to the diligence of the Budget Committee. They have worked hard over the past four years to cut wasteful government programs and spending, fraud, and abuse by corrupt individuals. The result has been more money going to where it can do the most good.

Another reason for the healthy budget situation is the hard work of Missouri farmers and workers. Missouri economy is going strong and especially Missouri agricultural products are fetching high prices on the international market. This is leading to increased sales and state income tax returns.

A final reason why the budget is strong are the actions of the House over the pass few years to expand the use of tax credits to encourage job growth. Tax credits act as an incentive for businesses to either expand or move to Missouri and create high paying, quality jobs. By all measures of success our tax credit programs have done tremendously well over the past few years to attract business.

These programs include the Quality Jobs Act, the Historic Tax Credit, and Enhanced Enterprise Zones. In fact the House debated and passed an expansion of Enhanced Enterprise Zones to make way for the Mega-Project Enterprise Zone. This legislation has the potential to immediately cause the relocation of an airplane manufacturer to the Kansas City area that will bring thousands of new jobs. I also believe it has the potential down the line to attract other major manufacturing companies and possibly encourage the expansion of such major Missouri companies as Boeing in St Louis.

Over the past four years I have worked hard to improve our state as your State Representative and as Speaker of the House. I have always thought that if the economy is not doing well, and people aren't out there working, then the rest of the important things we want to work on won't happen. There is no way to adequately fund education and college scholarships if Missourians are not working hard to support their families.

I am very proud to see my last budget as Speaker be very strong and contain growth in education funding. Through the hard work of Missouri farmers and workers, and the use of tax credit programs in the House, we have seen meteoric job growth propel Missouri forward.

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