Senator Sater’s Capitol Report, for the Week of May 14: Missouri Legislature Passes Balanced Budget

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There is really only one requirement the Missouri Constitution places on the Senate and House every year – and that’s to pass a balanced budget. To be sure, that’s not all we do. Senators and representatives file bills and we try to solve the problems facing our state, but the state constitution doesn’t require us to pass any other bills or debate any policies other than the state budget. Last week, the General Assembly wrapped up work on the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, and it is one of the strongest and most conservative budgets we’ve ever passed.

That requirement in the state constitution should give us some idea of just how important passing a balanced budget is. We have to make sure our schools have the tools they need to provide a first-class education to our children and prepare them for their future. We did that this year by fully funding the School Foundation Formula. We must provide our colleges and universities with resources to attract and turn out the best and brightest. We did that by restoring past cuts and putting more into scholarships and cooperative programs. We have to keep traffic moving and our people safe on Missouri’s roads and bridges. Missouri’s highway and road network will see more funding this year, but this is still an area of our budget that requires a long-term solution. We must protect our state’s citizens by supporting and equipping the Missouri Highway Patrol and helping communities after disasters with emergency management. We did this, too.

Funding those priorities is only one side of the equation, though. The other side is doing all of this while not spending more than we have. It may sound like a simple, common-sense idea, but when you consider our national debt is hovering around $21 trillion, the fact that your state government is paying all its bills and not putting any of it on the credit card or putting the burden on future generations is unique. Too often in the past, lawmakers have taken the easy way out, promising their constituents that government could pay for anything and everything and be all things to all people.

The reality is – government should do no more and promise no more than is necessary and even what is necessary should be done with as little taxpayer money as possible. This is my philosophy on the role of government. Government should leave people alone to do what they do best – work hard, raise families and build the life they want. When government does have a responsibility granted to it by the will of the people, it should do so efficiently, effectively, and inexpensively. Most Missourians and Americans are not looking for a bigger government, more involved in their lives, and deciding what’s best for them. In a nutshell, they want government off their back.

These are the beliefs I take into the budget process. We must continually push all of state departments to be more efficient and cut the fat out of their budgets. We must rein in out-of-control spending on welfare programs like Medicaid. We must continue to support the areas of our budget that return our investment like tourism and workforce development. We must decide what our priorities are and at the top of that list should always be fiscal responsibility and discipline. This will continue to be my focus as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and as your state senator.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 416, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

God bless and thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Missouri Senate.