The governor has several deadlines to meet, the first being June 30 when he must sign the state’s budget into law. Other bills will have a forty-five day time table to either be signed or vetoed, or they will become law without the governor’s signature. The deadline is July 14. The General Assembly can consider overriding those bills that the governor chooses to veto; however, it takes a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override a governor’s veto. The annual veto session falls on the second Wednesday of September.
There are differing views as to the overall success of this year’s session. In state government, not everyone gets all of what he or she asks for, and our system is designed to do just that. There needs to be a cooperative attitude among those who serve in government in order that differences can be worked out and compromises can be reached to best benefit the state’s citizens. This session we had a good working relationship between the House and the Senate, and that relationship proved to be profitable. I believe this session to have been very productive, and I am personally pleased with what we were able to accomplish. I am eager to go back again next year to work on some important issues that will be good for Missourians.
Working together, the General Assembly—the House and the Senate—passed a balanced budget. One of the highlights of this year’s budget was the increase in appropriations to K-12 education funding. We were able to provide an additional $66 million to the Foundation Formula, which funds public schools around the state. These additional dollars will make a huge difference for schools, not only in our district but in all statewide public school districts.
On commenting on the legislative session, Governor Nixon gave Missouri lawmakers mixed reviews. He complimented legislators for passing a “fix” for the state’s insolvent Second Injury Fund and for increasing funding for both public education and mental health. However, he was quick to criticize the General Assembly for taking no action to expand Medicaid, vowing that next year he will renew his push for accepting more federal Medicaid dollars. In his statement, he reminded lawmakers that one hundred percent of federal funding for Medicaid would still be possible on January 1, 2014. The priority of the General Assembly is to first make necessary reforms to the Medicaid system before taking any federal money to expand the program. The state has no assurance that the federal government will continue to fund any expansion after its initial three-year period, and this could cause serious budgeting problems for the future.
Another issue that both parties agree is critically needed is the bonding proposal to build or upgrade state properties, from college campuses to other state buildings, including the mental health facility at Fulton. This was a top priority for many lawmakers. Senate President Pro-Tem Tom Dempsey stated that “we simply didn’t have enough time to properly examine this proposal.” Dempsey went on to say that he is considering implementing an interim committee to study bonding issues around the state. Agreeing with Senator Dempsey and speaking about the 2013 session, House Speaker Tim Jones said, ” We have a lot to be proud of in this long list of accomplishments.”
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this Session was the fact that two important pieces of legislation didn’t make it this year. They were a tax credit package and the one-cent transportation sales tax. The tax credit debate again became bogged down over how much to cap incentives for the two most costly tax credits—low income housing and historic preservation. The transportation tax joint resolution, if passed, would have gone to a vote of the people to determine its outcome. This is the legislation that would have generated funds to rebuild I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City, thus making it a six-lane interstate.
Throughout the summer, I will continue to share information with you concerning different bills as they move through the process of becoming law or of being vetoed.