A Merry Christmas to All
Christmas snuck up on many of us this year. If you’re like me, you’re not spending as much time in shopping malls, and many holiday events are more low-key, if they haven’t been canceled completely. As we move closer to Dec. 25, the growing holiday cheer is unmistakable, though. The decorations are up, the festive sweaters are out of storage and Christmas cards and letters arrive with each day’s mail. As the familiar song says, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
Although worldly matters occupy the headlines, it’s the arrival of Advent season that has been the best news for me lately. Is there anything that fills us with hope and lifts our spirits like Christmas? Not for me, there isn’t. The brightly wrapped packages, sparkling lights and beautiful decorations are just what we need to take our minds off of a difficult year behind us.
As we prepare for the Christmas holiday, let’s remember the promise made so long ago in the Old Testament: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Each Christmas, we’re reminded this prophecy was fulfilled in a barnyard on the outskirts of Bethlehem, with an angel declaring the news: “Fear not: For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
I hope everyone has a joyous holiday. Merry Christmas to all, and a happy New Year.
Updating UCM on the State Budget
Recently, I was given the opportunity to update the University of Central Missouri’s Board of Governors on the upcoming General Assembly. In addition to discussing legislative priorities for the 2021 session, I was able to share the latest revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year. The Consensus Revenue Estimate (CRE) is prepared each year by state budget experts, and this document helps guide the Legislature as we prepare appropriations bills. The CRE for Fiscal Year 2022 anticipates revenue of $9.78 billion, which is $418 million less than the estimated revenue for the current fiscal year.
We’ll learn more about the governor’s priorities for state spending when he delivers his annual State of the State Address, but the release of the CRE provides a preview of the spending limitations for the coming year. The projection isn’t as dire as the raw number suggests. According to information provided by the governor’s office, the $10.2 billion estimate for Fiscal Year 2021 (the current year) is artificially high because tax filing deadlines were extended in the spring due to COVID-19. This resulted in two influxes of revenue occurring in the same fiscal year. The FY22 estimate more accurately reflects the amount budget planners would expect to see during a normal year.
I appreciate the UCM board inviting me to its December meeting and allowing me to discuss legislative matters.
A Vaccine Update
As everyone probably knows by now, the federal government has approved a coronavirus vaccine and initial doses are already being administered to health care professionals and other essential workers. The rest of us should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine within a few months. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has developed a website that addresses many of the questions and concerns Missourians are likely to have about the vaccine. For more information, please visit www.covidvaccine.mo.gov.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.