The Missouri General Assembly now has a clearer picture of what is expected of us over the next four months. Each year, the governor delivers his legislative agenda to the Legislature in what is commonly referred to as the State of the State. In his yearly speech, he lets lawmakers know what his priorities are, and where he would like to see our state either by the middle of May — the end of the regular legislative session — or by the same time the following year.
The effects of the ongoing pandemic were apparent in his address, in one major way. Because of concerns over COVID-19, the governor delivered his speech from the Missouri Senate Chamber, for the first time in state history. Much like the annual State of the Union the president gives each year, there was a time when these were simply documents that were presented to the Legislature. Eventually, past governors decided to give remarks verbally, rather than in writing. Traditionally, the address is given before a joint session of the Legislature in the Missouri House of Representatives.
The message in the address was clear, Missouri has done a fairly good job of keeping ahead of the pandemic from a budgetary point of view. Fortunately, this translates into the possibility of our state making some much-needed improvements to infrastructure, which includes parts of northwest Missouri. Broadband Internet expansion has proven to be a necessity, because of the pandemic, and I am happy to see the focus turn to rural Missouri and those improvements aimed not at luxuries, but absolute necessities in the 21st century.
As for the Fiscal Year 2022 budget itself, the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee took its first look at this on Jan. 28. It is a long road from here to the beginning of May, when the budget will be due. Both the Senate Appropriations Committee, which I chair, and the Missouri House Budget Committee will start to hear from the general public and every department head in state government. Each will create its own version of the budget, meet in unison to hammer out differences, and then pass a balanced budget to send to the executive branch no later than May 7. My colleagues and I are up to the challenge, and we look forward to spending taxpayer dollars wisely, so that every Missourian benefits and we keep our state strong.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.