Workforce Development & Workplace Safety - Chairman
Joint Committee on Child Abuse & Neglect - Vice-Chair
Professional Registration & Licensing
Subcommittee on Child Abuse Reporting & Investigating - Chairman
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Regular Session has ended for 2013. We completed all the work time allowed by 6:00 P.M. on Friday the 16th. The Governor has the prerogative of calling us back for special session but I don't believe there are any pressing issues to warrant that. Our next official duty will be veto session in September when we have the opportunity to try to override any vetoes by the Governor. Candidly speaking, we had a pretty darned good session. Our leadership this year worked totally different than the past two years. Both the House leaders and the Senate leaders were dedicated to working together to pass some much needed legislation for the six million people of our state. It is amazing what can be accomplished when legislators put their personal differences aside and work for the common good. That's not to say that there weren't some who abused their powers for personal reasons. One Senator on the final day threatened to filibuster and shut down everything to keep the Transportation bill from moving forward. If it had passed, it would simply have placed a question on the ballot for the voters to decide. The best thing for me was to see the spirit of compromise. We had been working all session on a remedy for the second injury fund. Because the second injury fund became too inclusive of injuries that were never intended to be included, it was threatening to bankrupt the entire worker's compensation system. Republicans and Democrats worked together to craft legislation that satisfied the Governor, Attorney General, The Trial Lawyers, The Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Big Business, Small Business, The Unions, and a majority of Representatives and Senators. If you think that was easy, you're NUTS! I was involved in that process from last August until it finally passed Friday at about 11:00 A.M. I'd rather help Jane in her flower beds than go through that again!
Well, we had a fun filled, action-packed week. Maybe not so much "fun-filled". Our first duty as a Legislature is to pass a budget. We are also responsible for balancing the budget. Unlike the Federal Budget, we must provide the people of Missouri a budget that does not spend money that we do not have. We must also act responsibly by funding the things that matter most such as education and social services before we spend taxpayer money on other things. I'm proud to say that although the Missouri Constitution only calls for us to spend 25% of the General Revenue on education, we allocated nearly 34%. We take education seriously in the General Assembly and that is one reason the Senate required the Department of Education to send the Director to each of the 34 Senate Districts this summer for public meetings before we consider the Common Core proposal next year. I personally applaud the Senate for not jumping into something before they investigate it fully. We did get a budget passed and it puts the priorities of Missourians first. It contains the largest level of funding for K-12 education in the history of the state including a 66 million dollar increase in the funding formula, a $2.4 million increase for Bright Flight scholarships, $2 million for teaching programs in urban areas, $4.2 million for the Arts Council, $8.9 million for the developmentally disabled, $10 million for expansion of Med School at MU in cooperation with Springfield hospitals, $25 million increase for Universities, just to name a few things. The House and Senate have fulfilled their duty, now we must hope the Governor doesn't cut money out of programs for his withholds.