Representative Jon Carpenter represents parts of Gladstone, Oakwood, and the Kansas City Northland in Clay County Missouri. He is also the Minority Caucus Vice-Chair. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we post these updates please click here.
UPDATES FROM THE CAPITOL
Governor’s State of the State Address
Governor Eric Greitens delivered the State of the State address on Tuesday. He called for a number of proposals, including ethics reform, right-to-work legislation, tort reform, and welfare reform. He also proposed a number of potentially costly measures such as tax vouchers for private school tuition, and a significant increase in law enforcement spending.
Governor Greitens did not present his proposed budget during the speech, as has been the custom for many decades. The state of Missouri currently faces a $450 million budget shortfall due in large part to a series of tax cuts, giveaways, and exemptions passed over the last several years.
Education cuts in the current budget year
Governor Greitens made $146.4 million in unilateral state budget withholdings, the majority targeting K-12 education transportation and colleges and universities. Greitens made the cuts to the state budget for current fiscal year 2017, which ends June 30th.
Of Greitens’ cuts, $90.3 million came from education appropriations, with $79 million of that coming from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. The higher education cuts included $55.9 million from the operating budgets of public four-year institutions and $11.8 million from community colleges.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education took an $11.3 million hit, most of which came from an $8 million cut to state funding for local school districts’ student transportation costs. Those costs will be shifted to local taxpayers.
Supreme Court ruled minimum wage must go on the KC ballot
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that city officials wrongly kept a local minimum wage ballot initiative off of the local November 2015 ballot. An election will need to be held within Kansas City to decide whether or not to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Even if voters approve the wage increase, it is unlikely to actually take effect. This is because in 2015 the state legislature voted to outlaw local control over the matter – expressly preventing cities from raising their own minimum wage. Governor Nixon vetoed the bill at the time, but it was overridden by a Republican super-majority. However if the initiative were to pass in the upcoming election, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state law would be likely.
“Right-to-work” passed out of the House
The House of Representatives voted 100-59 on Thursday in favor of controversial legislation that would make it a crime for business owners and unions to negotiate labor contracts with one another that would require workers to pay dues for the union representation they receive. The measure now heads to the Senate for further debate.
BILLS I’VE FILED
HJR 27: Exempts veterans with a total, service-connected disability from property taxation.
HB 611: Requires long-term care insurers to file their premium rates and actuarial justification with the Department of Insurance; annual rate increases over 10% must be approved by the Director.
HB 635: Adopts an interstate compact to elect the president by national popular vote.