Legislative Column for the Week of Monday, April 21, 2014
Bringing Science and Technology Companies to Missouri

Legislative News

This session, we’ve been steadily working on Senate Bill 491, legislation that revises Missouri’s criminal code, something that hasn’t been done since 1979. We’ve devoted a substantial amount of floor debate this year vetting each and every individual part of the legislation.

Revising our criminal code is a massive undertaking. Some legislators were concerned such a large measure could easily contain unintentional mistakes. However, the law won’t go into effect until 2017, which will give legislators time to address any errors or unintended consequences of the bill. Even after that, the Legislature would—and always will—have the ability to change or reform standing statutes to ensure they meet judicial muster and achieve their intended goal.

We need to update and strengthen our criminal code. Prosecutors, criminal defenders, and members of the judicial branch have all pushed for revisions. This legislation has been in the works for around eight years, including three years of legislative vetting. It also garnered broad support when it was approved by the House earlier this week. 

On Thursday, we sent to the governor Senate Bill 491, which revises the state’s criminal code. It took a lot of time and compromise to see this bill through to passage. I’m proud of my fellow legislators for working together to accomplish a long-time goal of the Legislature.

The Senate spent much of its time this week debating measures relating to economic development. Since first being elected to office, one of my main priorities has been job creation and fostering growth in our state economy. I’ve consistently supported measures I believe can move Missouri forward and usher in an era of prosperity for our state.

To do this, we need to take proactive steps to bring new companies to Missouri and expand existing ones. This is especially critical in science and technology-based industries, the source of the 21st Century jobs our citizens will need.

In 2011, we passed legislation creating the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, a program aimed and bringing more science and technology companies to Missouri. It was a widely supported bill, and seen as a strong step in keeping our state competitive in bringing these types of business to Missouri. But, due to a technicality in the language of the bill, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional. The program never got off the ground, costing our state a valuable opportunity.

This week, we began debating Senate Bill 912, which would reenact MOSIRA and fix the language that got the original bill struck down. The legislation also creates a tax incentive equal to 50 percent of a donation to the Missouri Technology Investment Fund to encourage more investment in start-up companies and to lure new businesses to the state.

We also started work on a measure to streamline and reform some of our state’s largest tax credit programs. It’s no secret tax credit reform has been an ongoing goal of the Legislature for a number of years. Most legislators agree these programs need to be reviewed for effectiveness, eliminated in some cases, and capped in others to protect the financial stability of our state.

A number of these incentives are fantastic and do exactly what they were created to do. Others are ripe with waste and have consistently had a negative return on taxpayer investment. It’s time to add some sanity into our economic development programs, so that we can begin steering our limited funding into those that work and start scaling back funding for those that don’t. 

District News

April is National Financial Literacy Month, an opportunity to highlight the importance of financial literacy by providing information, seminars and workshops geared toward both children and adults.  In honor of Financial Literacy Month, the Missouri Credit Union Association is offering some personal finance tips on how to create and stick to a budget:

  • Write Down Your Monthly Income

    Include the take-home amount on your paychecks and any other money coming in, such as child support or income from a second job. 
  • List and Total Your Monthly Expenses

    Fixed expenses:  Rent or mortgage, car payments, student loan payments, etc.

    Fluctuating expenses:  While these costs fluctuate from month to month, they can be budget drainers.  Think about how much is being spent on utilities, gas, groceries, etc.  Look back to past months’ statements to determine how much is actually spent on these items.

    Discretionary expenses:  Daily latte? Clothes? Dinner out?  Entertainment?  Don’t guess – take the time to actually find out.

  • Set a Savings Goal

    List and total annual periodic expenses and then divide it by twelve to determine your monthly average.  This should include expenses like car maintenance, holiday expenses (gifts and travel).  Transfer the monthly amount into your savings for use as necessary and safe-keeping.

    Set a goal of how much to save in addition to your periodic expenses.  This can be as low as 2% or higher if you have more flexibility.  The amount is less important than the habit of saving some amount regularly.

  • Set a Debt Pay Off or Pay Down Goal

    Always pay more than your minimum.  Set your goal so that you are actually paying down the debt principle and not just meeting the interest.  This goal should actually move your debt toward a zero balance.

Now that you have a good sense of your financial status, you can start to build a realistic budget.  Is your monthly income less than all of your expenses, savings and debt reduction goals?  Adjust your spending accordingly and aim to live within your means.  If your monthly income is greater than your expenses, then concentrate on increasing your savings or paying off your debts.  You never know when your circumstances might change.