The Missouri state budget remains our top priority this session. In the House of Representatives we are seeking to balance the budget without putting undue burdens on our constituents. We are also trying to craft a budget that will do the least damage to the economy, small businesses and Missouri workers.
State departments and divisions are facing steep cuts, and the House has a responsibility to bear some of the burden as well. We join legislatures across the country which are cutting back to the bare minimum to function. It is important to have a well-staffed House and Senate in order to craft well-written legislation and handle constituent cases; however, there are some areas where we have trimmed back.
House members have reduced in-state travel to only the very necessary functions. We must travel to and from the Capitol for session, but other state meetings and tours are being re-evaluated to determine if they are really needed or if they can be combined with other functions to save on travel expenses. Out-of-state travel has been nearly eliminated.
The governor’s office requested additional funds for redistricting purposes. However, the House fulfilled its constitutional requirement to redistrict without using any additional resources. This is a hefty savings of up to $200,000.
The House, working with our Legislative Research division was able to eliminate the Legislative Budget Office. Many of the Budget Office’s functions were being duplicated elsewhere. Its primary purpose was to inform us on how legislation would affect the state’s budget which can also be done through other departments. The savings to the state is $242,000.
Some House members have had cell phone calls reimbursed. I do not seek reimbursement for my cell phone calls. Eliminating this expense alone has saved the House nearly $55,000.
We are moving to a paperless system within the House Chamber. It is difficult to calculate how much paper this will save. Also, this is a significant savings in staff time and copying equipment.
I am glad to see the Missouri House move toward a more lean operation. These much-needed budget cuts at all department levels will slim the size of our government and force us all to become more efficient. Initially it is going to be difficult, but through this process we will all discover many areas that are wasteful. It is our goal not to cut needed programs, but instead eliminate the unnecessary programs. The expenditure of taxpayer money should always be kept to the very minimum.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Ruestman addresses budget cuts
Rep. Marilyn Ruestman lists some of the cuts made by the House to Missouri's budget in her latest Ruestman Report: