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May God bless you - Representative Bill Reiboldt
This past week Americans had the opportunity to commemorate two federally designated days: Constitution Day and the United States' National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Appreciation was paid to our constitution’s designers on Constitution Day, September 17, and on the United State’s National POW/ MIA Recognition Day, observed on the third Friday in September, there was remembrance for those who were either prisoners of war during war times or who did not return home afterward.
Constitution Day is a time when every citizen should reflect on the importance of our 227 year-old U.S. Constitution and what it means to us. Adopted on September 17, 1787, and consisting of a little over 4,500 words, the U. S. Constitution is the oldest and the shortest written constitution of any major government in the world.
As many of you may have already read or heard, Veto Session 2014 was very eventful and is one that will long be remembered. It stands a good chance of going into history books because of its marathon-like atmosphere and its record-setting number of overrides. Veto Session this year began at about 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, September 10, and it was finally concluded at about 3:15 a.m. on Thursday, September 11. In that time period 10 bills and 47 budget line items were overridden.
This year the governor withheld $1.2 billion of general revenue and of that amount $250 million was outright vetoed. The withheld monies can be released at a future date when revenues are available, but the vetoed monies have to go through the appropriation process again next Session. It was with the line item vetoes that the members of the General Assembly and the governor most disagreed. The General Assembly overrode 47 line items, restoring over $40 million in state funds. Members of the Missouri House first dealt with line item vetoes—individual lines of appropriated funding. Many of the overridden 47 line items were budgeted programs for children, seniors, and Missouri’s poorest, programs such as Meals-on-Wheels, sheltered workshops, regional autism projects, Alzheimer’s services, science and math tutoring programs, Bright Futures, independent living centers, etc.
On September 10, Missouri’s political attention will be focused on the state’s annual Veto Session. This past Legislative Session, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed 33 bills and 116 line items on the appropriation bills. As a comparison, last year he vetoed 29 bills but only four line items. A record 10 bills were overridden at that time. It remains to be seen what will happen this year, but attempts will be made to override many of the vetoes, the majority of which will most likely come from the appropriation line items.
It is hard to understand the governor’s reasoning in vetoing so many of the appropriation bills when he has the authority to withhold the funding if revenues fall short of their projections. Personally, I will be watching several line items very closely. Two are vetoes for Crowder College monies, monies that are important to Crowder and its future plans. (Other community colleges are facing a similar situation.)
Another line item I will be watching affects the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon. The governor vetoed $5.2 million of funding, and because of this veto the University of Missouri—which operates the facility—made the decision to close it on October 31. I feel it is important to keep this center open and utilize it in a useful manner as we go into the future. Additional line items the governor chose to veto include an increase in appropriation for Missouri nursing homes, sheltered workshops, and school safety grants.