Holding the Line
The Senate has now perfected the first bill of the 2022 session, a renewal of the workforce incentive program, passed a resolution that would place an income tax rate cap before voters and approved a $4.6 billion supplemental budget.
The first legislation to clear the Senate this year was Senate Bill 672, which extends the sunset on Missouri’s Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program. Originally enacted in 2019 and scheduled to lapse later this year, the Fast Track program provides financial assistance to help non-traditional students enroll in college and other training programs. Students over the age of 25 and those who have not been attending school for two years qualify for the existing program. In addition to extending the program to 2029, the legislation introduced this year would expand Fast Track to assist Missourians participating in apprenticeship programs.
A number of senators, myself included, had concerns about the legislation. Senate Bill 672 did not include many of the Missouri taxpayer protections I fought to include when the bill originally passed in 2019. In particular, I was adamant that no money would be available to illegal immigrants. I also wanted to be sure the program only benefited residents of our state. I, along with my several of my colleagues, held the floor of the Senate and blocked passage of the bill until our concerns were addressed. Working with the bill’s sponsor, we added language that limits the Fast Track program to individuals who have lived in Missouri for at least two years prior to applying. We included an exception for active duty military personnel so service men and women and their spouses could benefit while stationed in Missouri.
While we were successful improving the Fast Track bill, I was not able to add language to address two major educational concerns. Throughout a long evening of debate, I proposed amendments to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and to prevent biological males from competing in women’s athletics. Incredible to me, 15 senators of my own party voted against including the Critical Race Theory amendment and 16 members of the majority party voted against including the transgender sports language. The showdown over these two amendments highlighted deep divisions within the majority caucus of the Missouri Senate.
Those divisions were shown again as the Senate approved a substitute version of House Bill 3014, the stop-gap supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year’s budget. Unlike the more modest supplemental budgets typically put forward each spring, HB 3014 is loaded with additional programs and spending. The bill makes your state government bigger by hiring more state employees and includes $1.5 billion to fund Missouri’s expanded Medicaid program through the end of the year, providing “free” taxpayer-funded health care to able-bodied Missourians. In one small victory, the bill includes a zero-dollar appropriation for Planned Parenthood, clearly indicating the Legislature’s intentions regarding abortion funding. I voted against this bloated supplemental budget, as did six other members of the majority party.
As a principled fiscal conservative, I will continue to fight for legislation that upholds bedrock Missouri values and holds the line on wasteful spending. My actions have not necessarily increased my popularity in the Senate, but I am not here to win a popularity contest. I’m here to do what I told my constituents I would do. Most notably, I will continue to work toward advancing a congressional redistricting map that sends more conservative members of Congress to Washington and keeps Missouri’s two major military installations within the same congressional district. That battle is not over yet.
The past two weeks have brought a steady flow of visitors to the State Capitol and I have enjoyed meeting with all the folks from the district who have stopped by to express their views and witness the Missouri Legislature in action. Among the groups visiting were delegations from the Missouri Association of Public Administrators, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri. It was also my pleasure to welcome members of the Missouri Farm Bureau who were in Jefferson City for that group’s annual legislative briefing, and also representatives of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association. Finally, this was National FFA Week, so there were lots of blue jackets in the Capitol. It was great to see so many people from the district wandering the halls of the Capitol and visiting my office. It is my honor to represent you and I welcome visits when you’re in Jefferson City.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.