Special Budget Speech
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder
June 5, 2003

I wish to appeal to you first for some cooperation on three measures we passed that you have pledged to veto. First, you have pledged a veto of the right-to-carry bill we passed, yet again, with overwhelming bipartisan support. A few facts: This year saw three more states B Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico B pass this bill. So we have now 22 states that have passed right-to-carry during the decade that leaders of your party have fought our efforts to extend this right to law-abiding Missourians, well-trained in handling firearms. With the action of these three states, we as Missourians now find ourselves isolated among only five states that stubbornly deny our citizens this natural right of self-defense.

In a remarkable op-ed piece published last month in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Democrat and former congressional candidate from St. Louis named John Ross addressed this issue. Ross comes from a remarkable lineage: His grandfather was Charlie Ross, who served as press secretary to President Harry Truman at a time when both of my grandfathers called themselves Harry Truman Democrats. John Ross' piece addressed your lack of cooperation and impending veto of right to carry. It is Ross thesis that if you follow through on this veto, you will further accelerate the decline of the party of my grandfathers across this great state. A look at the electoral map, and the 104 counties that passed right to carry four years ago, is instructive.

My question to you, governor, with all due respect sir, is simple:

Why do you not trust law-abiding Missourians with a right that the vast majority of Americans already exercise safely and responsibly, day in and day out?

Governor, I ask for your cooperation and implore you not to veto, but to sign, the right-to-carry bill.

Second is the 24-hour waiting bill for abortions. A little research shows that 21 states already have this reasonable measure on their books. Year-in and year-out for three decades, Missourians have elected overwhelming pro-life majorities no matter which party controlled the General Assembly, a result re-confirmed and strengthened last November. Yet you seem determined to out-do your predecessor in not cooperating with our pro-life majority and fighting us at every turn.

Governor, I ask for your cooperation and implore you not to veto, but to sign the 24-hour wait bill.

Third is the vital issue of lawsuit reform. Here, your position is most interesting. You acknowledge that a problem amounting to a crisis exists, but seem to believe that it is limited to medical malpractice. Your stated position, released in a statement as we senators approached our 30th hour of debate over three days and nights, was that you would sign a bill encompassing our work as it related to medical malpractice, leaving out all other Missourians. "Take out the docs, address the concerns of the medical providers," seems to be your approach, and leave all other Missouri businesses and individuals to operate under a different system of civil justice.

Governor, let me tell you about my late father, a pediatrician who practiced for 52 years in Cape Girardeau. Three-and-a-half years before his death in an auto accident on July 1, 2000, he had closed his practice to move to the county health unit in the poorest part of South Cape Girardeau, there to see an exclusively Medicaid population, heavy with minorities, who had no one else to take care of them. He was a living, breathing lesson straight out of the 25th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and this as he moved with energy and purpose into his ninth decade of life. Seeking nothing for himself, no man of words but rather a man of action and humility, he was a living exemplar of the wisdom etched into the walls outside the Senate chamber: "Not to be served, but to serve." Were Dr. Jim Kinder here today, I know what he would say: He would tell us that is just flat wrong to say that we should have one civil-justice system for doctors and another, more onerous one, for all other Missourians.

Governor, I ask for your cooperation and implore you not to veto, but to sign, the lawsuit-reform bill.

And now for the budget, the reason you have brought us back to the Capitol for this extraordinary session. I join with most Missourians in believing that this session is unnecessary, that we in the House and Senate did our darndest to put together a sound budget in very difficult times, and that at least in our chamber, it was a bipartisan compromise with a bipartisan result.

You have responded with a six-figure television and radio advertising campaign attacking us, and by flying around the state at taxpayer expense, holding staged media events to decry our work.

Governor, I join with other Missourians from all walks of life, who are asking of their elected leaders, when it comes to taxes: What part of "no" don't you understand?

On the last afternoon of the session, May 16th, at my invitation you came to my office to discuss a Medicaid cost-containment measure that you had asked us to pass, in your state-of-the-state message in January. It was a Senate bill, a major piece of legislation. Unlike the norm when your party controlled the Senate and House, we had a key member of the minority party handling this major bill. This was a bill that you had asked us to pass, and on which your budget was predicated, as you had built in the cost-savings from its passage into your plan.

With four hours remaining in the session, I implored you to compromise with us and call off the dogs and help us pass the bill you had asked for. In response, I received a total lack of cooperation and was met with a stone wall from you and your aides. The bill failed of adoption as time ran out on an otherwise tremendously productive session.

It now appears clear that this refusal on your part was part of a well-planned strategy – do not cooperate, do not compromise – urged on you by political aides and decided on weeks if not months earlier, to deny us these and other savings, and then blame the resulting larger budget gap on us.

Governor, the people who sent us here expect better of us than this - another cynical version of the blame game.

We in the Legislature met our constitutional duty to pass a realistic budget plan authorizing expenditures by the state within the time allowed. Whether you like it or not, we produced a bipartisan budget compromise that was on-time and based on real revenue. You have taken our on-time budget and turned it into an over-time budget, with billions for education and healthcare hanging in the balance.

We in the Legislature reduced real spending to match the real revenue we expect our state to receive.

We have refused, and will continue to refuse, to write a budget plan based on the imaginary revenue you would like to send to a vote of the people in order to force Missourians to cough up more.

And yes, the difference between your budget and the budget we passed is the difference between real and imagined revenue:

You balanced your budget in January based on $700 million in imaginary revenue – money that is only possible as a figment of your imagination.

We passed a bipartisan budget compromise that was on-time and balanced on real revenue.

You vetoed $12 billion we approved as part of our bipartisan budget compromise for school children, college students, the poor and elderly, while demanding another $700 million from taxpayers.

Throughout this entire legislative session, our new majorities have cooperated with you and made serious efforts to compromise where we could.

Early in the session, we reached a compromise to address the fiscal year 2003 shortfall by issuing revenue bonds that saved taxpayers over 200 million dollars over the life of the bonds. Our efforts allowed us to keep over $200 million to go towards the pending crisis in fiscal year 2004.

In fact, we have cooperated and compromised on many of the proposals you asked us to consider. We met you more than half way on the tax loopholes you asked us to close, adopting six of your 11 recommendations.

We compromised by meeting you more than half way on new revenues, handing you $400 million in additional money even before consideration of the federal revenue that is now on its way.

The president and the Congress, led by our two United States senators, have sent us nearly $400 million in help, but even this doesn’t quench your thirst for higher taxes. Perhaps you can explain to us, and to thousands of listening Missourians, why it is that you just want MORE!

Governor, I don’t understand how you can ask us for cooperation and compromise when you and your Democrat attack machine criticize us for a budget that is $12 MILLION out of balance, while creating a budget crisis that is $12 BILLION out of balance.

As sure as I know I am standing here today, I know we in the Legislature have cooperated with you and your administration as much as we possibly can.

But we cannot and will not compromise on sending any tax increase to a vote of the people.

Governor, your comments in recent days, together with those of your budget director, clearly point to still more vetoes of the budget bills that are moving toward your desk, a course that will take us to an unprecedented shutdown looming at the end of this month. If and when that day comes, let everyone in this great state fix that responsibility where it so clearly belongs: On your shoulders and yours alone.

I implore you, governor, to turn back from this course before it is too late!