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Contrasting with some of the very nice weather that we’ve enjoyed recently, we are again reminded of more typical February weather with the receipt of snow/sleet/freezing rain to wrap this week up. I pray that all remain safe, and especially for all of those who continue working through this weather to maintain the services that we all depend upon (Intercounty, Emergency, MoDOT, etc.). I believe that at the very least, a “Thank You” is appropriate, and if given the opportunity, offer a hot cup of coffee, a snack, or even a helping hand. The generous, hospitable, and appreciative nature of our people here in South Central Missouri make this the best area in the world to live. A simple gesture of kindness can mean a lot to those who are away from the warm confines of their home and families, working around the clock in often dangerous conditions. While we’re on this note, the next time that you see one of our service men or women, remember to express gratitude for all of their (and their families) sacrifices to maintain our freedoms; lacking their continued efforts, there’s really very little that would matter. It doesn’t have to be Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation.

The Budget Process

Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about “Sequestration.” The last crisis fabricated a couple of months ago, was extensively referred to as the “Fiscal Cliff.” Both deal with considerable amounts of money (or, more precisely, the lack thereof), and the inability of our federal elected officials to get our financial “house in order”, allowing us to proceed with a sustainable plan in place. At the state level, there are similarities, but the landscape is significantly different; owing to the balanced budget which is Constitutionally required at the end of the process. In short (and over-simplified terms), here’s the process:

  1. State agencies prepare their budgets, which are delivered to Governor Nixon
  2. Governor Nixon makes his recommendations
  3. State agencies then present their requests and the Governor’s recommendations to each of the 7 appropriation committees
  4. Appropriation committees then make adjustments, and then pass the budgets along to the entire Budget Committee
  5. the Budget Committee then makes adjustments, and sends the Bills to the House for debate/recommendations
  6. the Bills are passed out of the House, and sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee
  7. Senate Appropriations Committee makes adjustments, then Bills are sent to Senate for approval
  8. Senate approves/makes adjustments, and Bills then move to Conference Committee (composed of members of both the House and Senate)
  9. Conference Committee approves/makes adjustments, and Bills are once again referred to both House and Senate for approval
  10. Following joint approval, the bills are sent to the Governor for approval/(Line Item) veto
  11. Any vetoed Bills return to repeat the process

At present, most of the Agency’s budgets are coming out of the respective appropriation committees, and working their way into the House Budget Committee. At this point, most budgets are relatively similar to what was received last year, with a 2% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Increase. This differs significantly from the Governor’s reccomended budgets; in that his assumptions included expanding Medicaid and the passage of four other pieces of legislation (which haven’t passed the General Assembly previously) which would have increased state spending by an additional $1 billion.

As outlined above, the process has a long way to go, and there will inevitably be many changes before it is complete. I plan to discuss some of the changes in better detail in future reports. Next week we’ll take the discussion in a bit of a different direction; legislative proposals which would stand to save our state money.

March 1 – Join me

Trout season is just around the corner, with the season opening next Friday, March 1. Join myself, Jason Smith, Jeff Pogue, and Governor Nixon at Montauk as we usher 2013′s season in.

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