This past Tuesday, we sat in the House chamber and listened to Governor Jay Nixon give his fourth State of the State address. It was a wonderfully bipartisan address, filled not only with inspirational stories, but lofty rhetoric and powerful appeals to working together to get things done for our great state. On many items, the Governor and the House Republican caucus were in agreement. In fact, this year’s address might have been the best yet by the Governor.
But they say that past performance indicates future results. And too often over Governor Nixon’s now three years in office, he stirs people to applause with his prose, and then fails to deliver with his performance. This past year has seen Governor Nixon lay out yet another lofty agenda, spurred by tax incentives for companies like Mamtek in Moberly and Hometown Innovation Team in Cape Girardeau. Yet, the same lofty agenda once again was deflated by reality, brought on in no small part by a lack of due diligence in the Governor’s office.
And we have seen strains of the same already in this year, with Governor Nixon proposing, and then quickly pulling, a proposal that called for the University of Missouri System and four other colleges to provide loans to the state from their reserve funds totaling $160 million—with absolutely no guarantees to the schools that the loan would be paid back. While one might wonder why our universities have such large reserve funds set aside, the fact remains that we cannot continue to keep kicking the can down the road. Missouri’s acceptance of federal stimulus funds—a move I opposed—was one such measure. Shifty loans such as the one Governor Nixon proposed are another. It is far past time to make the moves necessary to ensure a limited government, keep our state on solid financial footing, and to set Missouri up for the future—and while we hope Governor Nixon joins us in these efforts, the Missouri House of Representatives is already acting to ensure that those moves are made.
That is why my colleagues and I took up the Taxpayer Protection Act (HJR 43) in the House this week. In the past, some general assemblies have called for an increased role for the state government in providing services during times of high revenues. You and I both know that increasing the government’s role and size only leads to higher taxes and an unstable economy. Ensuring citizens and elected officials alike are protected from a short-sighted growth of government is a key component to providing stability in budgeting, stability in taxation, and protection during times of revenue disparity. The Taxpayer Protection Act does just that—it limits that growth of government by tying any increase in the budget to population growth plus the rate of inflation. Any money left over after the adjustment is saved for times when the budget is short.
In this economy, when families are sitting down over the kitchen table and planning for the future, and when businesses are planning their budgets to make sure they don’t fall short if another downturn occurs, there is no reason that the state government should not do the same thing. We are doing just that.
More remains to be done, but as the Missouri House advances its Blueprint for Missouri, you can rest assured that I will be ready to stand up and speak for the folks of St. Charles and St. Peters, and to dutifully report back to you with what we are doing. I welcome and look forward to hearing your opinions on the issues of the day. Please feel free to contact me by phone or by email to share your thoughts with me. And, as always, I remain in your service.
Working for you,