This past week the Missouri Legislature approved and sent the 2016 State budget to the Governor. This is the first time in 5 years that I have been in the Legislature that I have voted against 2 of the 13 budget bills (HB 10 and 11) in their final form. I supported the original House budget bills as they were a product of well vetted spending in which the citizens and organizations in the State had the ability to comment on and present evidence for and against. The product that came back from the Senate and ultimately agreed to by the Conference Committee did not receive the same scrutiny. When a House Bill is returned to the House from the Senate with amendments and the House does not agree with the changes the Senate made, it is sent to a Conference Committee which is comprised of five members from the House, appointed by the Speaker, and similar number from the Senate. When the committee reaches an agreement, it is returned to both bodies. The Conference Committee Substitute can only be accepted or rejected. There is no opportunity for the rest of members of the House to modify the bill.
HB 10 appropriates money for the expenses, grants, refunds, and distributions of the Department of Mental Health and Senior Services. Funding for two of the three critical areas I watch had their funding cut in HB 10. Mental Health received an increase in funding, while funding for the Division of Community and Public Health and some senior programs, such as the one supporting meals for seniors was reduced.
HB 11 provides funding for the programs supervised by the Department of Social Services including Medicaid. Unfortunately, some Senators decided to circuitously legislate policies via the budget and included the expansion of managed care in Medicaid. Aside from the quality of care, access to care, and cost issues associated with such an expansion, the Senate budget amendments circumvented the normal law making process that allows for a full vetting of a proposal on its own merit. In the last five years, no bill proposing such an expansion has never made it through the committee and floor process. It is apparent that it would still not pass, short of the shenanigans of holding the budget hostage. It passed by only 3 votes and then only after leadership came out strongly in support of the bill. I vehemently argued on the floor against adopting the Conference Committee Substitute for HB 11.
The 2016 budget included an additional $84 million for the School Foundation Formula for K-12 public education, increased the funding to the Parents as Teachers Program, and provided full funding for virtual education.
The total 2016 budget sent to the Governor was slightly over $26 billion. Approximately one-third came from the General Revenue (income tax, sales tax, other fees, etc.), approximately one-third came from the federal government and approximately one-third came from other dedicated taxes (fuel tax, conservation fees, etc.) the legislature does not directly control.
Missouri Department of Conservation Events
Located in the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center in Wildcat Park just south of I-44, the Joplin Conservation Office is your local connection to Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife. Stop by for a fishing/hunting license, and stay for a nature program, go for a hike, enjoy a picnic or access Shoal Creek.
Rod-and-Reel Loaner Program
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at fishing, but didn’t want to invest in equipment, consider using the Department of Conservation’s Rod-and-Reel Loaner Program. With 40 locations throughout the state, you are sure to find one near your favorite fishing hole.
Since 2001, this program has promoted family outings and encouraged anglers who might not be ready or able to purchase their own rods and essentials. It's also a great resource for anglers away from home.
To borrow equipment, you must have a valid fishing permit. In addition to rods, participants receive a small tackle box filled with hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and a stringer to help make their outing a success. To find a loaner location near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/28592.